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Saturday, May 5th 2007

Tactical Medicine

Putting health care providers on the “front line.”

Under traditional emergency medical services (EMS) protocol, medical first responders wait outside a crime scene, or “hot zone,” until it is deemed safe by the police. That can take precious minutes or even hours — and can mean the difference between life and death.

Maryland State Police (MSP), along with police in Fairfax and Montgomery counties, the U.S. Park Police and some divisions of the Virginia State Police, are among the agencies that have embraced so-called tactical medicine, embedding paramedics and even physicians into special operations teams in the hope of saving lives, not only in…domestic attack[s]…but in mass killings and school shootings like last week’s rampage at Virginia Tech.

This is a really interesting topic. Along the same lines I heard Dr. Sudip Bose speak at a small AMSA conference last year. He was an Army EM physician in Iraq, and had some really incredible pictures, video, and stories from the front lines. A lot of this stuff was far from MASH/Baghdad ER, this was really front line, on the scenes, scary stuff.

Whether to put further people at risk in order to save those who are already victims is a difficult measure by utilitarian standards, but I think what the article describes is for the best. Physicians and other health care providers should be on the front line more. I think it can save lives.