I am sure many of you are familiar with the benefits of buying American made products. Here at Conterra, our entire brand is manufactured within the state of Washington. Obviously, we are passionate about American-made. We love the fact that buying American-made products creates jobs in our communities, reinvests our dollars in our economy, supports humane working environments and stems from more environmentally sustainable practices. That being said, I am not here to tell you why you should buy our American-made products. Instead I would like to share with you the top four reasons why we choose to manufacture our products here in the USA.
We are intimately involved in the manufacturing of our products.
We know the people manufacturing our designs.
We are committed to investing in our community and our country.
We believe that Americans will realize the investment they are making by purchasing American-made products.
There you see, not only is manufacturing American-made products a philosophy near to our hearts, but we also believe it is a smart business decision.
What are the similarities and differences between these critical functions?
The simple answer is that tactical medics are “attached” to a tactical law enforcement team and are considered part of the team. Whereas a Rescue Task Force is a trained, but hastily formed group of EMS medical providers (private and/or fire based) that partner with law enforcement on scene and enter a newly secured area such as an active shooter incident, to provide triage, emergent care and extrication to the casualties.
Both Tactical Medics and Rescue Task Force personnel provide emergent care in less than ideal situations, often under significant stress and in chaotic, sometimes hostile environments. Both work very closely with law enforcement during planning, training and actual events. Most Rescue Task Force members are outfitted with ballistic vests and helmets, and likewise, almost without exception, Tactical Medics are protected with body armor and helmets. Both Rescue Task Force and Tactical Medics are specifically trained and equipped to deal with ballistic, blast and other violence-induced trauma. Rescue Task Force members wear their usual daily uniform (Fire/ EMS/ law enforcement) and are typically dispatched during their normal shift. Tactical Medics wear the uniform of the tactical team they are attached to and are physically located with the team, or just outside of the “hot zone”.
Tactical Medics are somewhat analogous to the hockey team trainer who travels with the team and is there primary to provide medical aid to the team, whether the injury or ailment is serious or not. The most common items requested of the Tactical Medic are Band-Aids and ibuprofen. However, the Tactical Medic must also be prepared to provide life-saving interventions to team members and other on scene law enforcement. The Tactical Medic will provide initial medical care as needed to victims, bystanders, and perpetrators once the scene is secured. They will transfer patient care to a standard EMS unit if further care and transportation to the hospital is needed.
Tactical EMS models
Some law enforcement agencies (LEA) send officers/agents/deputies to EMT school, or comprehensive tactical medical classes and those officers may become the default Tactical Medic for the team. That may be a workable solution; however, it is unlikely those individuals have the medical experience and patient assessment skills needed to be the best medical practitioner in high-risk, high-stress situations.
There are countless workable models for the incorporation of a medical contingency plan for law enforcement operations. Some of the more common models are listed below:
- Officer/Agent/Trooper/medic- These are sworn law enforcement officers (LEO) having dual roles as an "operator" and medic; they have law enforcement powers and can certainly protect themselves from potential threats.
- Agency contract- In this case the LEA has a contract or MOU with a local EMS provider (Fire or private EMS service, or hospital medical group) to provide up-close medical care. Some agencies put the medics through a Reserve Officer school, so that they can be armed as LEOs.
- Individual contract- An individual or a team of individuals are under contract or MOU with the LEA for providing medical coverage for SWAT missions and training.
- ALS Stand by- In this outdated model, there are no Tactical Medics, but LE will stage a standard ambulance some distance away and they would respond to the scene after being secured by law enforcement.
There have been two major shifts in doctrine related to law enforcement operations over the last 10 years. One change focuses on aggressively going after active shooters with whatever assets happen to be on hand, instead of waiting for a SWAT team.
The second major change is recognizing the need for emergency medical contingency planning. This includes training all tactical personnel and line officers in the basics of self-care and buddy care with the focus on bleeding control and the addition of a dedicated Tactical Medic.
An aspect of this doctrine shift (in addition to the Tactical Medic) is - at minimum notifying –but ideally involving local EMS and hospitals about planned or developing law enforcement operations that have a high risk for injuries. SWAT teams are increasingly including a dedicated tactical medical component, and medical threat assessment as part of their organizational structure.
Learning about Tactical EMS
Many in the EMS/medical field have demonstrated and voiced interest in exploring what is required to get into the field of tactical medicine. In addition to the pre-existing medical training one already has (i.e. physician, nurse, paramedic, EMT, etc.), it is highly recommended to procure specific tactical medical education.
Programs such as NAEMT Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), Tactical Life Saver and others like it are one or two days in length and have been well received by the EMS and LE community. The International School of Tactical Medicine (ISTM) offers a 2 week intensive program aimed at medical practitioners who need basic training on law enforcement operations, and how to work within a law enforcement team as the medic.
Scenario of a tactical mission
On a typical planned SWAT operation there are several phases and steps that take place well before the “hit”. Most often, the mission is a planned high risk search or arrest warrant. After getting a "warning order", the SWAT team operators and all of the support elements (medical, communications, negotiators, etc.) typically convene at a Forward Staging Area (FSA).
A briefing will occur, where mission goals, subjects, and target location layouts are reviewed. Depending on the nature of the mission and Operations Security (OP-SEC) issues, the tactical medic may coordinate with the local EMS transport provider to have an ALS ambulance stage close to the location.
The Tactical Medic is the logical liaison to the on-scene EMS assets that support law enforcement operations. Typically the Tactical Medic will have a face-to-face meeting with EMS supporting units if they are available.
Rescue Task Force
Prompt integration of EMS medical rescue teams with Law Enforcement escort (Rescue Task Force) into an active shooter and other violent threat incidents is a recently adopted concept in the civilian first responder world. The introduction of the Rescue Tack Force (RTF) to the wounded casualties should be just after the threat has been eliminated, when the scene has been deemed relatively secure. Historically, Fire and EMS crews staged a distance away until LE methodically secured the scene before permitting EMS to access victims. This practice is being phased out and is being replaced with a more patient centric and life-saving approach.
There are two priorities in these types of events.
In terms of providing life-saving interventions, there are four ways to render medical aid in these types of situations.
The RTF focus should be on quick initial medical assessments and to provide life-saving interventions on scene at the point of wounding (POW) if needed. This should be done in concert with efforts to extricate victims to a Casualty Collection Point (CCP) where a secondary triage, treatment and transport can be provided. The RTF group should use a pre-entry LE/EMS checklist to insure important issues are addressed. The law enforcement aspect of the RTF is focused on escorting and protecting the medical member of the RTF. Urban Shield has been conducting several tactical and EMS/medical integrated scenarios each year since 2008. These scenarios are created to be realistic, tactically and medically challenging and create an obvious nexus between the tactical resolution and providing life-saving care to the casualties in a timely manner. The Urban Shield EMS Branch has a well-deserved reputation for creating some of the highest rated scenarios in Urban Shield. We aim to continue that trend.
The Rescue Task Force concept is becoming more widespread and adopted nationwide. Fire Departments, local EMS providers and law enforcement need to collaboratively train, drill and develop procedures and protocols for this concept to be effective. You do not want to be exchanging business cards the day of the horrific event.
Ski season is here! Well, some places it is here. Where we are located (in Bellingham, WA) our slopes didn't open until this past Saturday which was really late for us. It felt like it took FOREVER, but it's finally here and in light of that we thought we'd share an article from a past newsletter about one of our packs that, because of it's reputation as a multi-tool, would be a great companion on the slopes. It is always fun to peek into Rick's hands-on creative process. If you want to subscribe to our newsletter and get all the sneak peeks behind the products click here.
The original Crossbow started with Rick’s goal to design and build an Ultra light pack for Hasty SAR Teams. His vision was something that was durable but still quick, light and lean. Being very hands on about his designs, it was only natural that Rick include in his process a rigorous test. If we are completely honest the whole design began with this specific test in mind, as Rick believed this test would prove both the durability and the leanness of any pack and it was his goal to produce a pack that stood up to the absolute insanity of it.
The test was as follows:
Seems reasonable right? Maybe not, however, the pack survived and was dubbed the "Crossbow." This pack became very popular very quickly and was soon used by people all over the world. Rick himself used/uses this pack on a regular basis for everything from bike commuting to work to carrying his bodysurfing gear in Hawaii. So while we all were sad to see the Crossbow go out of production a couple years back, we are SO excited to see it come back this year with several improvements that make this pack even better for the original intended audience; Hasty SAR. Honestly though, it is still great for so many uses, it is the multi-tool of high quality packs.
Rick being the force and vision behind many a pack design has some obviously pack-geek favorite new features. If you can get him to focus for a minute away from the new water proof zippers that outline the sleeker and sexier exterior pocket silhouettes and main compartment, then I think he would settle on the improved accessibility and ability to organize medical supplies within the pack.
As the title suggests, I am going to attempt to pass on a few tips and suggestions regarding choosing the right bag or pack for your needs. I don’t think I will ramble on about what company to choose because you are:
A) Reading our newsletter.
B) Already know that choosing a company who builds all of their packs and bags in the good ol’ US of A using superior US sourced materials and craftsmanship is a good idea because you know that it means our products are built for life, and we guarantee that!
Keeping it simple and without getting all techie regarding bag design, let’s begin evaluating your decision process.
The first thing you need to determine is the “style” of bag / pack that is needed. What is the primary environment the bag/pack will be used in?
Is the pack/bag going to serve in a busy urban system getting pulled in and out of an ambulance day in and day out or will it be used in a wilderness / rescue setting where the bag/pack will be carried over long distances and rough terrain or both? What is best for the situation, one of our full-on pack designs or one of our more traditional response bag designs? It is good to keep in mind that all of our traditional bag designs have the capability to be worn as a backpack or lumbar pack. All of our packs have grab handles so they can be carried like a bag as well. There is really no issue in discussing which is more durable (urban or wilderness styles) because all of our products are built for life regardless of the environment they are going to be used in.
Once the “style” of the bag is determined, we need to look at what is going to carried in the bag/pack. Is this an ALS or BLS bag? Is it going to be an Expedition or Hasty Team bag / pack?
Conterra offers several product lines of the same design that vary in size. An example is the Responder series sizes I-IV and the Flightline series (to include the ALS Extreme) that is offered in 3 sizes. Your choice will depend on how much or how little equipment you are required to carry. I spend a lot of time with Emergency Services and Rescue Teams going through what equipment is really necessary to carry (beyond what an agency may require). A big hint: go through your equipment and really think about what really needs to carried, i.e. 27 Kerlex bandages makes absolutely no sense unless it is a Mass Casualty bag! You all know what I am talking about. The configuration of the bag is a consideration i.e. pockets and other organizers. Thankfully, Conterra builds bags that are platforms for your specific organizational needs, not bags/packs with sewn in pockets and dividers. We do this for a good reason: we don’t know exactly what you are going to carry so we don’t want to assume the exact combination of pocket sizes you need...right? Instead we offer our MOS system (Modular Organizer System), which allows you to choose what size pockets, pouches and internal dividers you need. This allows for personal customization to fit your needs. All of our bags/packs have Hook & Loop (Velcro) panels that mate with the MOS options.
After you have determined what you need as far as style and size, it finally comes down to your personal preference. Out of your options is there one that you simply like better more than the other? Is there a color that you prefer? Is there a specific feature that is more important to you than another? Does one meet your needs better than another? These are the questions to ask yourself when comparing your options. Which one do you like and which one works best for your needs, keep it simple.
So to summarize:
Decide what environment you operate in the most and choose your “style” of bag/pack. (Ambulance, SAR, Fire, Expedition)
Determine how much equipment is required to be carried and choose the appropriate size (ALS, BLS, Special Op’s)
Choose the bag/pack with the options that suit your needs (probe/shovel pockets, zippered hood for personal gear)
I truly think the best suggestion of all is to really take a good look at your equipment and think about what you really need to carry and keep it to a minimum. We all know the way it goes in our world, if there is a space available somebody wants to cram something in there! Keep it simple and organized so you don’t have to dig around to get equipment when things go epic!
After taking a good long look at those suggestions I feel confident you will be able to narrow your choice down to a bag / pack that fits your needs. If you are still having trouble, drop me a line...I am sure I can convince you to get rid of most of the 26 ice packs you are planning on carrying around!