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July 31, 2012 > Rookie Fire Journal - Tactical Medics in Fremont

Rookie Fire Journal - Tactical Medics in Fremont

Historically, the Fremont Fire Department has evolved with the goal of providing the highest quality of service possible to the public. In the late 1800's, the only purpose of fire departments was to extinguish fires. But since that time, services have become incredibly diverse to meet the growing needs of cities such as Fremont. The most recent addition to the services provided by the Fremont Fire Department is tactical paramedics attached to the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

In the late 90's and early 2000's several incidents occurred that illustrated the need for specialists prepared to deal with injuries when SWAT teams are necessary. Most notably, during the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, one victim died of blood loss from a gunshot wound as a SWAT team worked to secure the scene. In a subsequent lawsuit, it was found that the SWAT team was negligent by not providing immediate medical treatment. In response to incidents such as this and threats of terrorism, SWAT teams across the country have been training doctors, nurses, and paramedics to become an integral component of SWAT teams.

Approximately 10 years ago, a joint effort of Fremont police and fire departments created a tactical paramedic position within the Fremont SWAT team. Leaders of both departments determined that three firefighter/paramedics would be chosen for the position. SWAT medics are required to attend over 300 hours of law enforcement training including a 180-hour reserve police officer - level 3 - academy.

Following completion of this training, SWAT medics are official reserve police officers while continuing their status as Fremont firefighter/ paramedics. SWAT medics must attend 22 hours of training per month in addition to their fire department training and are on-call for SWAT "call outs" 24-hours a day. Generally a call out is initiated by the Fremont Police Department when there is need for a warrant to be served or a hazardous incident, such as an active shooter, that requires SWAT capabilities. With the addition of the SWAT medic position, the team is now capable of treating life-threatening injuries at the time of the incident, in the active area of the incident, known as the "hot zone." Immediate medical treatment can be critically important because with traumatic injuries such as gunshot wounds and stab wounds blood loss can be fatal if not stopped within a short timeframe.

Thanks to progressive action by Fremont Fire and Police departments, our SWAT team is prepared to save lives during critical emergencies like mass shootings and violent crimes.

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