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· In Tactical Mode....
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by The Republican Newsroom
Saturday September 20, 2008, 7:33 AM

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SPRINGFIELD - If the "Las Vegas Scenario" was a movie, it would be bloody and brutal.

Instead, it's one of the many training exercises that law enforcement and emergency medical personnel went through this week during a tactical emergency medical services course put on by the Massachusetts Sheriff's Association.

In the scenario, a gunman on the upper floor of a building wounds two police officers who are then pinned down behind their cruiser by his gunfire
Responding personnel, while attempting to take down the gunman, toss what's known as "throw bag" - a kind of first-aid kit on a line of rope - to the wounded officers, still pinned down by gunfire.

Responding personnel talk the wounded officers through the actions they need to stabilize their wounds until emergency medical technicians are able to get to them.

During the simulation, based on a real incident in Las Vegas, a third officer is wounded before the gunman is finally taken out.

Cpl. Eric A. Stratton, one of the primary instructors for the five-day session, said the emphasis is on improving emergency medical skills under sometimes harrowing conditions.

"This isn't so much about tactics as it is about the medical," Stratton said. "How we improve the outcomes for a downed civilian, a downed officer."

Another scenario involves the serving of a warrant that develops into a hostage situation. Both gunman and hostage are wounded as police storm the building.

The victims, complete with simulated blood and wounds, are then treated.
"It doesn't matter, good guy, bad guy, they both had to get treated," Stratton said as the participants worked on the supposed victims.

The emphasis is on the teamwork and quick thinking needed to save lives before additional emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene.

"The ambulance is about 3 to 5 minutes out," said Stratton, describing a hypothetical ambulance as the responders worked on the injured men. "You own it for 3 to 5 minutes."

The field exercises were held at the Springfield Fire Department's training site on Grochmal Avenue. The flame-scorched structure provided a kind of gritty realism to the exercises.

Participants used paintballs, live ammunition that fired soft soap-like bullets and blanks.

"It's the closest thing to live fire that you are going to get," Springfield Police Sgt. John M. Delaney said.

Along with Springfield police, participants included personnel from the Hampden County Sheriff's Department, American Medical Response, and Chicopee police and fire departments.
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