By Daniella Rivera Photojournalist: Ken Kulovany – 11:16 PM May 15, 2016
ANCHORAGE – Police and EMTs in the Mat-Su Valley spent the weekend training for the worst together in part of a training program the state is implementing for first responders across Alaska.
The first two days of the program taught EMTs new skills learned from research that was done on combat medicine used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then on the third day, those EMTs taught the skills to their police counterparts so they can all work more closely together and give aid in the event of a large emergency.
Sunday afternoon they put their training to the test with some very realistic live scenarios involving theater students and fake injuries.
In one scenario, a building was smoking and people were calling for help following an explosion. A team of military, EMS and law enforcement personnel had to eliminate any potential threats and make their way to the victims as fast as possible. One was an amputee, losing blood fast. They had to stabilize him, then get him out of the unstable building.
In another exercise, an active shooter shot someone and was making threats. Police dealt with the gunman and covered a soldier while he helped a gunshot wound victim to a safer area, where EMTs were waiting to treat her. A smooth team effort that’s pretend, but it prepared first responders to deal with whatever challenges might come their way in the future.
“We could sit in a room all day long talking about how the scenario would be, table top exercises, but when you get these responders out there, get their heart rate pumped, it really puts them into a stress environment,” said Andy Jones, chief of emergency programs for the State Department of Health and Social Services.
The training also focused on using tourniquets. They’re not commonly used by police, but for a victim losing blood fast, Jones said the tool could be the difference between life and death. He said all responders at the training got to keep a kit with a tourniquet and other first aid tools, and that several departments are now applying for federal grants to purchase these materials for all their first responders.
So far, the state has conducted the tactical training in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Fairbanks, Anchorage and now the Mat-Su. They’re hoping to do it in the Kenai Peninsula Borough in the fall, and possibly the North Slope Borough.