DAYTON, Ohio-Law enforcement agents and other public safety personnel often work in dangerous environments involving high-risk situations. In such circumstances, providing medical care for personnel - and the people they strive to protect and assist - can be as challenging as it is essential.
Meeting that challenge is the mission of the new Division of Tactical Emergency Medicine (DTEM) within the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. The division, which is part of the school's Department of Emergency Medicine, will focus on providing care for public safety personnel, and on developing and teaching best practices for personnel and the medical providers who serve them or work alongside them.
"In high-threat situations, conventional EMS (emergency medical services) personnel may not be equipped or qualified to respond safely and effectively," said Brian Springer, M.D., FACEP, EMT-T, assistant professor of emergency medicine and DTEM director. "This is particularly true for special operations such as aviation, bomb disposal and SWAT teams."
Physicians, EMS personnel and other care providers trained in tactical emergency medical support (TEMS), in contrast, are better prepared to advise and assist public safety personnel during routine activity, training exercises and operational missions in response to real emergencies. DTEM will provide formal TEMS training for resident physicians and faculty in the department, as well as outside medical and public safety personnel.
TEMS has evolved over the past century based largely on military medicine, including battlefield trauma management. As military medical personnel returned from various conflicts and applied their experience in a civilian setting, the distinct but closely related field of TEMS began to take shape. Awareness of TEMS and its benefits are growing, but Wright State is one the few U.S. medical schools to have a formal program devoted to it.
While the division is new, TEMS has long been a focus at the medical school, according to James Brown, M.D., M.M.M., acting department chair and director of the school's emergency medicine residency program.
"The Department of Emergency Medicine has been providing medical support to local SWAT teams for nearly 15 years," Brown said. "The establishment of the new division simply allows us to organize and coordinate these activities in a more cohesive way. It will also allow us to look for increased opportunities to support this important public safety function in our community."
Eventually, Springer said, he would like to see DTEM maintain a 24-7 support center serving all regional law enforcement agencies.
"There should be no high-risk law enforcement activities going on in this region where we don't have the proper medical support," Springer said.
Achieving this ambitious vision will take time, he admits, but the creation of DTEM is a significant first step.
Editor's note: For more information or to schedule an interview contact: Phillip Neal, Marketing and Communications, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, (937) 775-4587 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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