Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Road to Reserves - Tactical Combat Critical Care, Box Drills, & Con Sim 2

A few instructors have asked what we are going to do once the academy concludes and we suddenly have an extra 16 hours in our week. For many of us, I believe this will be a time for catching up on anything pushed to the back burner over the past five months.

After that, we are all eager to don our uniforms, hop in a patrol car, and start interacting with the public in our new role!

Tactical Combat Critical Care

As a follow-up to our CPR and basic first aid class, we had the opportunity to learn how to address more serious injuries in this “Gunfight Medicine” class. It is not uncommon for peace officers to arrive first on a scene where someone is suffering an injury such as a gunshot or knife puncture wound.

With the appropriate training, we can provide initial care to victims as the environment is made safe for medical personnel to enter.

Classroom instruction began with the presentation of four important principles:
1. Do not get yourself injured.
2. Protect casualties from further injury.
3. Stop life-threatening bleeding.
4. Get more help.

An initial assessment of a victim can provide clues as to their most serious injuries. Observing an individual’s breathing, level of consciousness, and location and degree of bleeding will help us to determine what to do next.

The acronym MARCH is a guide to what injuries and symptoms we can begin to treat, and in what order.
M – massive hemorrhage (bleeding)
A – airway
R – respiration (pneumothorax)
C – circulation
H – hypothermia

In order to diminish bleeding (step M), we can elevate and apply pressure to the wound, or apply a tourniquet.

If a victim is having trouble breathing (step A), we can help them move to a more comfortable position or place them on their side in the standard “recovery position.”

Next, if an individual has suffered a puncture wound to their chest, we can assess whether a collapsed lung (or pneumothorax) resulted (step R). If so, we can apply an Asherman chest seal with valve to prevent more air from entering the victim’s chest.

Circulation problems (step C) often require intravenous blood or fluids, which we are not equipped to provide. Treatment of these issues must wait until trained medical professionals arrive.

A risk of hypothermia (step H) is the last step we will address. If we can do nothing more for a victim’s wounds, we will wrap the individual in warm blankets and sometimes get them off the ground to prevent their body temperature from falling.

Our class moved to the mat room to get some more hands-on practice with tourniquet application and techniques for moving an injured or unconscious person.

Having a tourniquet applied is not very comfortable...

It was quite the comedy performance watching my classmates drag and carry one another across the room! I had to stop myself from laughing and try to remember we were working on serious business.

Care must be taken when transporting an injured person, so instructors demonstrated several technical methods for doing so. Peace officers must cautiously balance the need to rapidly remove someone from a dangerous situation but also move deliberately to avoid further injuring the victim.

Box Drills

The term “box drill” can strike fear in the hearts of some new recruits and seasoned peace officers alike. These high-stress exercises help confirm a deputy or officer is ready to quickly assess and respond to unknown and potentially dangerous circumstances.

The student is led into a large room with a box on their head (strange, I know). Once positioned, the box is removed and the student must respond to whatever person or situation he or she observes.
In one drill, the candidate was placed face down on the floor with the box still on their head. When the box was removed, an instructor role player began to immediately attack the student from behind.

Instructors were watching to see if the candidate incorporated techniques and principles we learned throughout our defensive tactics classes. This included fighting to a standing position, increasing distance from a dangerous suspect, choosing a proper tool, and using effective tactics to bring the subject to the ground and place him under arrest.

Each student went through three different box drill exercises. All of the students also rotated through two other types of stations.

One of these stations was a conflict simulation (con sim) scenario in which the reserve recruit was dispatched to a call of an individual sleeping in front of a local business.

The recruit and his role player partner arrived at the scene and spoke to the business owner, who said the sleeping man was repelling customers and he needed to leave or be arrested for trespassing.

The student and his partner found the subject sleeping under a blanket, with his hands concealed. Attempts to get the man to move to a different location failed. The student then needed to recognize his authority to arrest, develop and communicate a plan to his partner, and safely take the individual into custody.
The final station for the day was a room in which a MILO use of force simulator was assembled. A large screen stood at the front of the room and displayed video scenarios with which the student would interact. Candidates traded their training pistol for another firearm which would act together with the simulation system rather than firing real cartridges.

As situations played out on screen, the student would speak, give commands, and use the MILO pistol, if deadly force was necessary and justified. Afterward, a debrief with an instructor included seeing where any fired shots landed on the screen and a discussion of the student’s actions.
Con Sim 2

Four new con sim scenarios awaited my classmates in our final class of the week. I joined the instructors in the mat room and donned an eye-catching blue police vest so my classmates wouldn’t confuse me as a role player.

One by one, students would enter the room and respond to the situation playing out in front of them. As in our last con sim class, each individual wore all their duty gear, a ballistic vest, and a protective helmet. They carried training pistols with Simunition paint rounds, foam batons, and training cartridges in their Tasers.
In the first scenario, a candidate and his role player partner approached a man drinking alcohol and urinating in public. These acts violate two City of Beaverton ordinances and can result in arrest.

The man appeared to be intoxicated and was non-compliant to requests and commands. The reserve candidate needed to communicate clearly with his partner in order to smoothly and safely take the man into custody for his crimes.

Another scenario took place in a restaurant. The scene was created using foam furniture, such as a counter with computer screen, seating, and tables. I was briefly excited at being asked to participate as a cashier role player, before I was replaced with an uninjured instructor.

My classmates went through this exercise individually. The participating student was told he was coming into the restaurant to pick up some food while his partner waited outside in the patrol car.
"Welcome to TD Deli! What would you like for lunch today?"

The cashier inside was very talkative and purposefully distracted the student from focusing on two men who sat talking inside the restaurant. Their conversation eventually escalated into a disagreement, and then into a loud argument.

Quite suddenly, one of the men drew a pistol. He made threatening statements to the other, saying, “I am going to kill you.” The attacker would then rapidly fire shots at the other man, if not stopped by the candidate.

This was a rapidly evolving situation that required quick, decisive action by the student. Based on the suspect’s comments, behavior, and possession of a firearm, the use of lethal force was justified in order to save the life of the victim.

Once the student gained control of the suspect, he had to assess the situation and determine what needed to happen next. This might include calling his partner in from the car, checking on or removing a wounded victim from the scene, calling for medical backup, calming the cashier or checking himself for injuries.

Saturday marked an important milestone for our group as my classmates successfully passed the last of their defensive tactics/con sim exams. It seemed as though everyone found the day to be challenging and very rewarding.


One of our classmates resigned from the academy last week. He determined the path to becoming a reserve deputy was not the best choice for him. All of us, recruits and instructors alike, admire his ability to be honest with himself and his strength in making a difficult decision. He is moving on to many other great adventures!

I finally got in to see a specialist for my knee and, fortunately, my injury looks less serious than initially believed. I will start physical therapy shortly, with a goal of resuming full duty by the beginning of July!

We are now twelve students heading into our last classes, final exam, and graduation.

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