As we approach the 4th anniversary of George Floyd’s tragic and unnecessary death on 25 May 2020, pundits on opposite sides of what Lawrence Kasdan called “The Grand Canyon” still separating too many Americans of different colors are rolling out the same diametrically opposed versions of the event. I was not there, but as both a law enforcement Use of Force instructor AND a 30+ year EMT, I think there are lessons here that can prevent repeating the mistakes of the past–IF we heed them.

In life-threatening situations, we tend to get hyper-focused on the task at hand, to the exclusion of all other stimuli. While this may be a survival oriented response, it can also cause us to miss something important, like additional patients, or the person who caused the mayhem coming back to finish the job. Here are some ways you can stay global in your perpsective.

Bag valve masks are underappreciated tools for getting air into your patient, without getting close to their face and breathing the same air. This information can help you use BVMs more effectively with less risk to your patients.

In tactical medicine, we talk about the “hot zone, the warm zone, and the cold zone.” We make those distinctions to differentiate what kind of care we should be giving under which conditions. But its critical to realize that what’s cold and what’s hot changes rapidly in dynamic active violence events. There really is no such thing as a permanently cold zone.
For many years fire departments pushed back against any kind of tactical training. They had no problem running into burning buildings, but one bozo with a .22 anywhere in a 100 acre complex was “too dangerous.” This article gives the lie to the notion that EMS personnel can continue to operate without at least rudimentary tactical training.

If you trade bullets with someone, expect to get hurt in some way. Your tactical training is less than it should be if it does not address how to help the wounded. This is not a comprehensive medical dictionary, but rather, explanations of some terms germaine to the “tactical medicine” / rescue taskforce world.