The San Antonio Police Department is one of the few agencies in the country to have a Tactical Medical Unit, a group of highly trained officers who serve in a dual-capacity: both as officers, and as medics.
The program is relatively new, and is modeled after a similar one used by the United States Border Patrol.
The mission of the unit is to respond to emergencies and provide critical patient care, before EMS arrives. Each of the unit's almost 40 officers also serve as licensed medical technicians.
“Our main objective is to fill a small little gap in the system of about 10 minutes at max,” said Officer Richard Smith, the program’s coordinator. “We can go into hostile, high threat areas that EMS traditionally can't go into."
On Thursday, officers were undergoing a string of scenarios, which simulate something an officer might encounter in real life.
“When we're out in the field, operating, you never know what you're going into,” said Sgt. Eddie Klauer, who also trains officers. “Often times, the scenes may not be safe yet, there's still a lot of chaos, and there's all kinds of people around you, behind you, and you don't know who they are.”
The program has helped 320 people so far. Seven of the officers within the unit are up for a Lifesaving Medal award for their quick actions in the line of duty.