Tactical medicine has been a part of military operations since the early years of war. Combat medics provided basic medical care to soldiers and were often on the front lines. As technology developed and medicine improved, trauma platoons deployed, allowing emergency physicians the ability to help patients more quickly and work in mobile units that could be swiftly set up or undone as required.
The need for emergency personnel to provide tactical medical care outside the battlefield has increased significantly over the last 20 years. In 1999, two teenagers opened fire at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, killing 13 people and wounding more than 20 others. While the shooting at Columbine wasn’t the first shooting event at a school or even the deadliest, it’s the one we all remember as we continue to experience active shooter events today.
According to the FBI, there were a total of 213 active shooter incidents in the United States from 2000 to mid-2016. The number of active shooter events may seem shocking as we tend to only hear about the incidents with large numbers of fatalities like Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, Sandy Hook, and Orlando.
A tactical environment can be anything from an active shooter situation or mass shooting event where the SWAT team is brought into a hostage situation, a drug bust, combat front lines or even a law enforcement official dedicated to keeping a school safe.
There are tactical medical education programs designed specifically to prepare EMTs, paramedics, nurses and physicians to provide emergency medical care to law enforcement officials, the SWAT team and active-duty military personnel while in a tactical environment.
While it’s great to have these specially trained personnel on your staff, there are many law enforcement officials and first responders who will be the first onsite in a tactical environment and should be prepared to provide emergency care as need.
Right now you may be thinking, where do I even begin? How do I prepare myself with the most relevant equipment and supplies to provide adequate care in a tactical medical environment? That’s where we come in. At CHIEF Supply, we have a wide selection of kits where everything you need is included and stored in a pack.
There are two frames of thought to consider – a minimalistic view, having just the basic necessities to manage the situation like helping to reduce blood loss, or a complete kit that provides everything you could possibly need to save lives.
If you are a firefighter, law enforcement official or an EMT without tactical training, a minimalistic pack may be right for you. Your goal is to provide immediate care when first called to a situation, and the basic necessities can suppress wounds until the tactical team arrives.
If you are trained in tactical medicine and tactical operations, whether as a member of the SWAT Team, Tactical Emergency Support team, or a trained EMT-Tactical, a complete pack is what you need to ensure you have all of the necessary gear to save lives.
Before we delve into the different kits, an important note to consider is having the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to enter a tactical environment. This means ensuring you protect yourself from both medical and violent threats, and this gear could include the following items:
Keep in mind that your uniform, weapons, and PPE can be quite heavy and cumbersome. You’ll want to choose a pack that you can wear comfortably and access quickly.
The compact size of this kit makes it ideal to keep inside your vehicle or in a jump bag. Included are the basic materials you need to provide care for a ballistic injury or other trauma style injuries. You’ll find gloves, a face shield, trauma shears, a tourniquet, a 4-inch bandage, and a nasopharyngeal airway to secure an open airway through the nose.
Developed jointly by the National Tactical Officers Association and the Medical College of George Center of Operational Medicine, this is the official kit for Specialized Tactics for Operational Rescue and Medicine training courses.
This first aid kit allows you to help prevent the loss of life by providing the tools needed to administer aid at the point of wounding. This is a great kit for law enforcement officers as it weighs less than two pounds and can be worn in many ways including attached to a duty belt, on an assault vest or connected to body armor.
Included inside the bag are two pairs of gloves, a nasopharyngeal airway, a chest seal twin pack, needle decompression kit (used when encountering a collapsed lung), a combat tourniquet, emergency trauma dressing, and gauze. Also provided is a combat casualty card and marker to provide patient documentation which will prove most useful when the patient is transferred to a hospital.
This compact kit weighs just under five pounds and focuses on the ease of access by providing trauma shears on the front and takes advantage of the compartments and attachment points to best utilize storage space. You can wear this bag over the shoulder or around the waist.
This is a more inclusive kit with the majority of the items mentioned above and includes other items like an abdominal emergency dressing, a splint, surgical tape, and a bag-valve mask (BVM) to help your patient breathe.
This comprehensive pack provides the ability to render aid and help evacuate multiple patients without a large rescue force available for support. Included are seven ARK™ Casualty Throw Kits that contain the necessary materials to stop hemorrhaging and maintain the airway to buy more time as other rescuers arrive. These throw kits allow medical personnel to distribute multiple kits and provide immediate care to many patients without taking up a lot of space in the bag. Other compartments allow space for more advanced treatment supplies.
In addition to the throw kits, other supplies include an angiocath to help release fluids from the body, halo chest seals to treat a penetrating chest wound, and the Helios® System with Active Warming for varying levels of heat retention.
While it is our goal to provide as complete of a kit as possible, you may find there are additional items you need or supplies you prefer to have. If you have chosen the minimalistic kits, you may want to supplement it with a few additional supplies that could make a huge difference in saving a life.
With any law enforcement or first responder job, it is always best to check with your unit chief to determine what is appropriate for you, your job and your work environment. There may be a minimum level of supplies you are expected to carry, and it’s important that you comply with those demands. When in doubt, let CHIEF Supply help you find the right tactical medical kit to keep you prepared and ready to provide life-saving care.