GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A suspect has just shot a police officer. The SWAT team is rushing out to the call.
"I see him to the right. I see him to the right," an officer yells.
This time it's just a drill, but if that dreadful call ever comes into the Gulfport Police Department, firefighters will be running out to the scene with the SWAT team.
Eight firefighters who are certified paramedics have recently undergone intense training to become tactical medics.
"In a femoral artery bleed, someone that has sustained that injury can bleed out within three minutes, so a medical unit standing by probably wouldn't be able to get to them as quick as we would," tactical medic Greg Griffin said. "That's why we have gotten this relationship going, became teammates with them and started training constantly and hard with these guys."
Instead of standing by in a safe location, the Tactical Medic Team is now able to go into the line of fire. The squad goes along for high risk warrants and other dangerous calls.
"The cross training is intense, and I think we are learning a lot from each other," Griffin said. "We are learning the tactical side from them on how to survive a fire fight, and we are teaching them the medical aspect of it. How to self-treat and buddy treat."
The guys train with the SWAT team on a regular basis.
"It's an exciting time for us to have that medical skill set," Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said. "Not just for police officers, but for anybody who may become injured in one of these contacts. We can start rendering aid quicker and hopefully survive and improve the injury of a gunshot wound."
Members of the fire department came up with the idea to start a tactical medic squad. Eight of the 16 paramedics at the fire department have joined the team.
"It's highly specialized training that they have to have before they could even volunteer for it," Gulfport Fire Chief Mike Beyerstedt said. "I do think you are going to see an increase in the people who want to get involved in the paramedic program, just because they see this as an opportunity coming off of it."
So far, the Tactical Medic Team has gone out with the SWAT team about 15 times. Several of the members are also undergoing training to become Gulfport police reserve officers.
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