This is my first AAR, so excuse the rambling.
I attended the Tactical EMS, EMT-T course at the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy in London, OH last week, July 12-16. It was presented by Tactical Medics International, www.tacmedics.com. I am a FF in a moderate sized suburb of Dayton, OH, so this was about as close to me as the course was going to get. I exchanged emails and calls with the President, Doug Kleiner PhD, prior to registering. He was very accommodating and easy to talk to. He genuinely seems to enjoy what he does. Mr. Kleiner is a CONTOMS graduate and instructor and is involved with Jacksonville SWAT among a list of other things.
My background is a 29y/o FF/EMT-P in a fire based EMS system with 9 years as a Paramedic. Our SRT is a multi-jurisdictional team that used to use true ER Docs, but for various reasons, they have not been attached to the team for about 3+ years. I attended the class to further my education and expand my usefulness to the team, as opposed to just sitting there while they kicked in doors. This class exceeded my expectations beyond belief.
The course is listed as 55+ hours, but that turned out to be laughable. As Doug, the lead instructor states about 3 minutes into class, “We teach to standards, not to time.” I think we put in just under 80 hours from 0800 Monday to 1600 Friday. The instructors change with every course since they are teaching part time. Our class lead was the owner/President Doug Kleiner. I won’t name the rest since I’m not sure how big on PERSEC they are, but they included a veteran DEA agent out of Texas, a North Carolina K9 Deputy, a civilian operator/HAZ-MAT guru from North Carolina, a major major player in the Virginina Tech shooting, a local ER doc who is attached to the FBI and two Athletic Trainers attached to area SWAT teams.
The theory of the class was crawl, walk, run. We had maybe 20 members, mostly Fire based medics, and a couple of ER Docs and a surgeon who are all attached to their respective local teams. They divided us into 3 squads, with each one having a team leader, and a faculty advisor. I was assigned the squad leader and was given the “rag tag” squad, meaning none of us knew each other prior to the first day. The course seemed to follow a set pattern. Lecture in the morning until lunch, quick lunch, quick lecture and then out for some PT/hands on exercises(pertaining to the morning lectures). We would then come back in, more lecture, quick dinner, then gear up in full loadout. We usually headed outside about 2100hrs for the night drills.
I don’t have the itinerary in front of me, so I’m going to post it off of the info they sent us. Once I get back to work, I’ll post some of the more specific stuff we went over.
Tactical Combat Casualty Care, Immediate Response Tactics, Latest Concepts in Legal Liability Aspects of the Tactical Medic, Sports Medicine for the Tactical Athlete, Non-Mission Medical Care, Medical Aspects of Specific Operations, Medical Threat Assessment/Medical Preplanning, Tactical Movement, Extraction, Assessment and Remote Assessment Methodology, Equipment Selection/Special Medical Gear for Tactical Operations, Hostage Survival, Tactical Airway Considerations, Extended Operations Considerations and Logistics, Heat Stress, Team Health and Management, Basic Suturing, Clandestine Drug Labs and Booby Traps, Medicine Across the Barricade, Dive Medicine, Water Rescue, Advanced Personnel Recovery, Ballistics/Forensics, CBRNE and Toxic Hazards, Medical Effects of Less-Lethal
Weapons, Anti-Personnel Devices, Field Expedient Decontamination, Riot Control Agents, and much more.
Like I stated earlier, the course progress was crawl, walk, run. The first night, the night exercises were very basic. Tactical movement using cover and concealment, casualty carries and medical assessment of a downed operator. For the assessment part, we were blindfolded and led to the area of a casualty, moving in a low crawl, we had to find the victim, rapidly assess and voice the treatments. Each night was progressively “tougher”, i.e. the tactical movements progressed to finding an active shooter in the basement, the carries got longer and the assessments became very sensory deprived(strobes, smoke, alarms, other operators screaming for you to help their guy, etc). We quickly learned what works and what doesn’t as far as equipment selection(gloves, goggles, etc). The instructors were extremely helpful, but didn’t bullshit you. Many students said if they screwed up, they were told. I feel that Doug and the instructors would have failed anyone they did not feel were progressing adequately. I’ll warn anyone who takes this course; the itinerary gives some pretty optimistic let out times. These did not hold at all, except for the final day. The latest time listed was 0000hrs. We routinely got out of class after 0230hrs. Monday and Tuesday were about 19 hours each day, Wednesday about 17 hours. Thursday was about 11 hours(then dinner out with the instructors) and Friday we finished up in about 9 hours.
I don’t want to give away some of the major surprises in the course, but it does seriously make you re-think some of the issues you may run across during a callout and how those involved may feel. The course was long and tough, but I think it was definitely worth it. We had two major FTX’s, one Clan lab in the woods and one daytime active shooter inside a school building with support from one of the local SWAT teams and local corrections officers. They use real bangs, real smoke and simmunitions to add to the reality of an assault. We got TASER’d, OC’d and gassed. They deprived us of sleep on purpose, then just threw shit at us. I think my squad came together very well and it was confirmed by the instructors. We had a few team building exercises/competitions where we won/excelled even though both the other squads were all from the same team and knew eachother, which I guess could explain that too. Lol.
Overall, I feel that I am leaps and bounds above where I was at from a Tactical standpoint. I got to connect with a local Doc who is willing to function as my Medical Control and is willing to expand my scope of practice to really help out the team from an operational/day to day perspective. I got formal training on handcuffing and securing individuals and got to interact with other teams to look at their loadouts to better set mine up. I feel that I am better prepared for the SHTF and day to day operational needs of my team.
I would highly recommend this course to anyone looking to provide support for a Tac team. TMI has some sort of agreement with the military to instruct their guys, so I think they’re legit and here to stay. There are numerous courses they offer on top of the TEMS module, which are listed on the website. If it works out time-wise, I plan on taking the Advanced TEMS course when it is next offered.
Feel free to ask any specific questions, I’m sure there is something I left out.