What is Tactical Medicine?
Well, it does exactly what is says on the label: Tactical Medicine is the provision of lifesaving skills in a tactical environment. First Aid is a daunting enough task for many people but it takes a special set of skills and mindset to be able to provide care under fire. Of course it’s not all gunshot injuries, it could be a whole number of occurrences from a stabbing to a major medical issue such as a heart attack following an assault.
In the environment of the CP operator there are serious tactical considerations to be made when medical skills are required. Is there still danger present? In what condition is the casualty? Are they alive or dead? It would be foolish to risk your own life to assist a dead person. Sometimes it is better to stay in cover and deal with the casualty from afar by using binoculars and shouting commands. This may seem an odd concept to some and has certainly caused controversy amongst some operators over years past.
The fundamental point of Tactical Medicine is summarised nicely in the opening pages of the US Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook – “The best medicine on the battlefield is fire superiority”. Of course CP operators are not generally Special Forces but the idea that the threat must be suppressed before treatment can be given is an important one and can be difficult for some to initially grasp, particularly those from a predominantly medical background (such as myself). Only with realistic and coordinated training can we grasp the true nature of Tactical Medicine. It needs a level head, tactical awareness and minimal gear to achieve what can be the difference between life and death for an entire team not just the initial casualty.
Tactical Medical courses are available around the world. You should choose one that best suits your needs. It may be that a basic, short course will suffice. If you have an aptitude or need for further skills, an extended course may be perfect for you. A point that I like to instil in everyone that cares about their skills is that a course is only the beginning. It does not make a perfect “medic” out of everyone straight away. It is the start of a journey of discovery and wisdom. Good tactical medics continue to learn throughout their careers and are never afraid to ask for help or advice. Training is simply the doorway to this passageway of learning. I wish you all luck in your quests for knowledge.
I welcome any questions, comments or requests for advice.
Marc “Doc” Johnson
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