JOINT BASE LEWIS-McChord, Wash. - In a medical emergency, the first few minutes of care can be the difference between life and death. The Washington National Guard's Counter Drug Program gave local first responders and Guard members new tools to assess this crucial time.

The Counter Drug Program put on a tactical medicine course, attended by law, fire and emergency department personnel and Guard members from the 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment preparing to deploy.

The course helps first responders respond to and care for patients in a civilian tactical environment. The focus is on the primary interventions for the leading causes of preventable death. Using a mix of classroom presentation and hands-on skills practice, attendees learn to provide basic life-sustaining treatments in a hostile environment.

"This course has been a great refresher for me," said Patrol Officer Elijah Allman, a former Army medic who works for the Tacoma Police Department. "I think the most beneficial part of this course has been the point of injury training, especially for law enforcement, since often we are the first responders on the scene."

Leveraging overseas and domestic military experiences, instructors illustrate and convey lessons learned in hostile situations.

"The local law, fire and emergency departments have adopted a program called Tactical Emergency Casualty Care, and it is very similar to what we teach in Tactical Combat Casualty Care courses," said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Keating, an instructor with the Western Regional Counterdrug Training Center. "We've adapted the TCCC course to meet the needs of our first responder students."

The program sets its course dates on a website and uses established relationships with high-intensity drug trafficking areas and their training coordinators to fill the seats. Many attendees are referred by previous students.

"I'm glad my counterparts from other agencies sent me the email for this course," said Allman. "I'll be spreading that awareness through my department as well. Every law enforcement officer should go through this form of training."