The role of the tactical medic has evolved in response to an increasing need to offer emergency medical services in warm zones — an area of indirect threat that’s close to the action. Active shooter incidents across the US, in particular, have sparked the rise in this new form of emergency medical service (EMS). Let’s explore what tactical medics do today and how they help keep you at the leading edge:
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is a constantly evolving profession. When you’re responsible for high-pressure medical interventions, it helps to be up-to-date with the latest developments in medical technology and best practice. The latest edition of the EMS Trend Report from ems1.com showcases insights and trends that help you stay at the leading edge of emergency medical care.
Here are the 5 key themes from EMS Trends 2020:
A new Medicare payment model for emergency transport is being piloted from January 2020. The Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport Model (ET3) is a five-year optional payment program designed to curb overutilization of Emergency Departments (ED) and overtreatment of Medicare beneficiaries requiring emergency medical care.
Under the ET3, ambulance providers will now be reimbursed for providing triage on the scene or transporting patients to lower-acuity care settings rather than the currently incentivized option - the emergency room. This alternative payment model was announced in February 2019 by Health and Human Services Secretary, Adam Azar.
According to this article by the Insurance Information Institute, the number of yearly natural catastrophes in the United States has doubled from 27 to 55 from 2009 to 2018. In 2018 alone, the FBI designated 27 shooting incidents in 16 states as active shooter incidents, resulting in 213 casualties and 85 deaths. These figures may be harrowing, but as this article indicates, they paint a clear picture: natural and man-made disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity.
People often look upon first responders as heroic. They rush towards danger when other people might run away. And the physical demands of being a first responder are undeniable. First responders are in charge of patient maneuvering debris, breaking down barriers, and patient transport. There's even a type of "carry" named after the fireman.
Everyday Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responders provide an important service in treating and transporting patients with minor injuries up to serious, life-threatening conditions. While highly trained and skilled, neither the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), nor the Paramedic was ever meant to be an expert in mass casualty incidents such as an active shooter event. Just as police units have regular patrol and also SWAT, medical responders also need specialized response teams.
Rescue Task Forces (RTF) were created to respond to the immediate need of first responders for a more coordinated and streamlined response to mass casualty incidents, such as mass shootings. When multiple emergency response units are on a scene at the same time, coordination is key to ensuring both patient and provider health. RTFs provide this coordination along with preplanned protocols to promote optimal outcomes. While RTFs have greatly improved mass casualty response, they are not without some challenges.
Active shooters want to cause chaos. This chaos quickly spreads beyond victims and bystanders and can affect first responders too. When the key to saving lives is a fast response, there is no time to stop and wonder who is in charge. This need is why Rescue Task Forces were created, to streamline responses, coordinate multiple groups and facilitate faster care and treatment of victims.
Emergency response often falls into distinct categories that naturally designate a situational lead based on the circumstances. For example, the fire department will typically take the lead when responding to a house fire, the police force generally is placed in command during an assault, and overdoses or mental health emergency responses are often led by the paramedics.But mass shootings are different.
Emergency responders don't get to pick the location of an accident. One call may be in a first-floor ranch home with level sidewalks, while the next is on the side of a 5-lane highway. Another call may involve an active shooter, a fire response, or a fall off a bridge. EMS workers need to be ready for any event, where quick-thinking and adaptation are key to survival.