ATHENS, Ga. - When a crisis unfolds, police officers are usually the first on the scene. Now, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department will be more prepared to help save lives in the event of an emergency.
The department hosted "Combatant Casualty Care Training" at its firing range this week with the help of Talon Defense, a training company. The course gives officers a leg up in providing immediate medical aid to patients.
"For officers pulling up on scene, there's almost no worse feeling than the helplessness of standing there not being able to help somebody," explained ACCPD Sgt. Matt Ring, who was instrumental in bringing the training to the department. "So, you just stand there and you wait on EMS or you wait on fire and what you run into is those are minutes and minutes are potential lives lost."
The participants learned how and when to apply tourniquets, administer IVs and handle patient blood loss. The course also teaches officers how to work through an injury themselves with intense work on the firing range.
"If that officers happens to be that person that gets injured, [...] this training it designed to push them through losing a body part be it an arm, a hand, a set of fingers," explained Sgt. Ring. "It is designed to say, 'You can overcome the challenges.' It just takes thought."
Officers who completed the training said it will prove paramount to helping the citizens of Athens-Clarke County.
"If I become injured, I can go ahead, I can assess myself," explained Senior Police Officer Molly Lacey. "I can do what I need to do to help myself and then if I need to assist somebody else, then I'm in a position where for the moment I'm OK. I can take care of business, basically."
The training program is high-intensity and pushes officers mentally, physically and emotionally.
"If we do all our training in a classroom environment, what you find is when officers get stressed, that classroom environment only takes you so far," said Sgt. Ring. "Not a day goes on you don't turn on the TV or read something in the newspaper about mass casualties--people being injured in a bus rolling over or a car driven through a crowd or something awful. Rather than stand there and look at it and cry about it, you know, now I look at it and I go, 'I can fix this. I can stabilize this. I can get these people home.'"
Sgt. Ring said he hopes to continue to host the training in Athens once or twice a year until all the ACCPD officers have completed it. He would also like to partner with representatives from the fire department and the University of Georgia on the program.