By Mr Michael A Glasch (Jackson)March 8, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Often the first law enforcement members on the scene of a mass casualty site, it's usually up to SWAT team members to stabilize the situation and render initial first aid.
To help improve their life-saving skills, on Feb. 29, a dozen officers from the Columbia Police Department, and the Lexington County Sheriff's Office SWAT teams underwent the same combat-life saving instruction that Soldiers in Basic Combat Training go through.
"Today's training is to provide the SWAT unit officers the opportunity to learn the life-saving techniques the military has developed during our times of war," said E. M. Marsh, commander, Columbia Police Department SWAT team. "This will save our squad operators and other victims of mass casualty scenes where we will be able to provide care that may be needed at a moment's notice."
One of Fort Jackson's combat lifesaver instructors provided the training, complete with the same interactive mannequins used to teach BCT Soldiers.
"It gets your attention, especially with the mannequin that moves and the blood coming out, it's a whole lot different than using a static dummy that just lies there," said Lt. James Auld, CPD SWAT. "This one becomes life like while you're working with it. It wakes you up. It makes you realize how quick you have to move in order to save someone's life."
The state-of-the-art dummy is controlled via a remote and has several interactive features, such as a simulated pulse, a moveable trachea and the ability to "bleed" until a wound is properly bandaged.
The lifelike features of the mannequin, along with being under time constraints, adds to the stress level of trying to save a person's life that the officers would face in a real emergency.
"Exposure is really the only way to appreciate this, without the exposure you're not going to know what to do when the situation arises," said Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Cheadle, combat lifesaver instructor, Company B, 4th Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment. "It adds to the stress level, it adds to the training, it adds to the value so that if they do wind up in a situation where they're in a house and something goes bad, they would be able to immediately provide life- saving measures."
Cheadle said the officers quickly picked up on the lifesaving skills and that he has no doubt about their ability to perform when the pressure is on.
"They can walk out of here today and at (seven o'clock) have that very same casualty lying in a house and I would feel confident that they'd be reunited for Thanksgiving dinner," he said.
That sentiment was echoed by Auld.
"I've never been through this dramatic of a situation and I hope I never have to," he said. "We'll be proficient before we leave out of here and I think once it's done I believe that it will work. I've been a police officer for 21 years and this is probably the best training I've had since the days I started at the academy."