Local EMTs and other participants received tactical SWAT training Tuesday, Feb. 26, to coach them in how to react in violent, volatile situations. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Lamar Institute of Technology’s EMS Division hosted the “Care under Fire” drill at the former Air National Guard building at First Street and Vitterbo Road in Beaumont on the grounds of the Jack Brooks Regional Airport.
Considering the nature of their jobs and the dangerous situations they could be exposed to in emergencies, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Rod Carroll said he felt the training program would benefit the participants, who were mainly EMTs but also included a Vidor Police officer and two Jasper County deputies.
In a media alert, Carroll stated, “The goal of the training is to familiarize emergency first responders in the proper techniques to utilize in a mass shooting or active shooting scenario where patients must be cared for while SWAT teams and law enforcement are still actively pursuing the suspect or suspects.”
Carroll said the participants were broken up into four groups. The idea for the day’s training was to simulate a sterile, “office-type” atmosphere similar to what they could face in a hostage situation at a school or an office or government building. The training exercises included various scenarios. In one instance, SWAT members led EMTs down a hallway to rescue an injured party at the other end. At one point in the exercise, one group was instructed to run past the SWAT members and EMTs as though they were fleeing from a gunman. Someone yelled, “He’s got a gun!” The group instructed to flee haphazardly ran through the hall causing the SWAT members and EMTs to make way. Carroll said exercises such as this one teach emergency personnel to keep calm in those types of situations.
In another scenario, a man screamed to SWAT members and EMTs for help and to “hurry.” Carroll said that was to put pressure on the trainees because that is something they could face in a disaster, particularly one in which multiple people are injured. In the same drill, the group found an unconscious “victim” and as they attempted to carry her to safety, she awoke. The actor started flailing about and asking, “What’s happening? What’s going on? Where am I?” The emergency providers have to stay cool in that type of situation, Carroll said. They must keep the victim immobilized with no stretchers or equipment to assist them, just as they could have to do in a combat or disaster zone.
In one exercise, Carroll fired shots and SWAT instructed participants in what to do in that case. Yet another drill had a group go to an injured person only to realize that person was one of the assailants in the scenario. Carroll said all of the scenarios run through over the course of the day were based on realistic situations.
Carroll mentioned the Columbine school shooting and said it is imperative that EMTs are trained to get to injured parties in hostage situations. He said at least two people who perished at Columbine in Colorado died of exsanguination, or blood loss, from their injuries. He said if medical personnel had been able to reach those people, they could have survived.
EMTs from Acadian Ambulance, Alpha Rescue, Beaumont EMS, Hardin County ESDs 3 and 5, and LIT students participated in the drill. Christie Hale of LIT’s EMS Division said “just about every agency in the area” were represented at the exercise.
“We make paramedics,” Hale said of the LIT program.
LIT student Brianna Boggs attended the drill. Boggs, who is an Air Force veteran, said she felt it was beneficial and interesting.
“I thought it would be fun,” she said at the event. She said she felt she had learned a lot and had a good time in the end.
Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com.