UPDATE: Madison Fire Dept. TEMS squad provides critical assistan - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Madison Fire Dept. TEMS squad provides critical assistance to Police SWAT team

Posted: Updated: May 25, 2014 03:48 PM
MADISON (WKOW) – The Tactical EMS or TEMS unit has been a part for the Madison Fire Department for the last seven years.

According to guidelines set by the National Tactical Officers Association, all police SWAT teams should include a TEMS unit that can embed with the officers, said Madison Police Captain Vic Wahl.

Wahl oversees the Madison police force's SWAT team.

All Madison firefighters are trained as EMTs, said Division Chief of Medical Affairs Che Stedman. According to Stedman, EMTs are capable of basic wound assessment and shock treatment, like using a defibrillator.

One step up from EMTs are paramedics. Stedman said paramedics are authorized to administer roughly 50 medications and can provide more thorough assessments of injured patients.

“(The paramedics) are basically the highest level of pre-hospital care,” he said.

Stedman said 80 Madison firefighters are trained as paramedics. But just 10 have the additional training needed to be TEMS medics.
Wahl said TEMS paramedics accompany his men into dangerous situations. They must be trained in the SWAT team's basic movements and procedures.

“It's about bringing those paramedics more closely into our tactical operations to allow them to deliver medical care to officers and citizens in a much more rapid fashion that they otherwise would be,” Wahl said.

Wahl said TEMS medics are not armed but they're given ballistic gear like SWAT team helmets and vests.

The TEMS unit is called upon to accompany the SWAT team on high risk calls like shootings, standoffs or the serving of warrants.
Dr. Michael Lohmeier, Medical Director for the Madison Fire Department, said the medicine the TEMS unit is asked to administer is something all paramedics are capable of.

But he said the TEMS unit often has to operate in austere situations.

“Light discipline, noise discipline, and working in a no-light or low-light environment,” is often a requirement, Lohmeier said.

“If the tactical team was not there and it was just the non-tactical medics responding, they would have to stage probably a block or two away until the scene was secured by police and they could come in and treat a victim,” Lohmeier said.

Stedman said the primary purpose of the TEMS squad is to treat an officer or civilian injured during a high-risk call. He said the quick response of the TEMS unit can be the difference between life and death in a business when seconds count.

“There could still be people around with guns,” he said. “The pressure is just being in that more dangerous environment.”

Stedman said the TEMS team trains for roughly 50 hours each year. He said the training ranges from two-hour, “tabletop discussions” to simulated emergencies in which the TEMS unit gears up and drills with the full SWAT team.

“It's important they're trained well because these emergencies are not high-frequency things,” Stedman said. “They don't happen once a day, They don't happen once a week. But when they do happen, the TEMS team has to be ready and ready quick.”

Lohmeier said the fire and police departments are in agreement that TEMS medics provide police with crucial support.

The Fire and Police Chiefs are likely to ask Mayor Paul Soglin for additional $30-thousand or so in funding to be put towards TEMS training in next year's city budget.

Stedman said the fire department often has to bring TEMS medics in when they're off-duty and pay them overtime for training because they cannot afford to spare them for full, training drills with the SWAT team while they're on-duty. He said on-duty medics are also required to respond to 9-1-1 calls and other emergencies that come up during their shifts.

But additional funding would allow the department more flexibility in keeping the TEMS unit's training up to standard.

"The police department and fire department work so well together," Stedman said. "We care about taking care of them and they care about taking care of us."

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MADISON (WKOW) – Madison's police and fire departments are hoping to secure a bit of extra money in next year's city budget to fund training for the the city's Tactical EMS or TEMS unit.

The TEMS unit, made up of 10 paramedics, is trained according to the police, SWAT team guidelines on how to enter high-risk scenes like shootings or standoffs.

The TEMS medics accompany the SWAT team into such situations for the purpose of treating officers, civilians or even suspects injured at the scene.

Medical Director Michael Lohmeier, of the Madison Fire Department, said paramedics who do not have tactical training often have to sit “a block or two away” during high-risk situations until police can clear a scene and allow them to enter and begin providing treatment to the injured.

But Lohmeier said TEMS medics can enter along with police and often work in noisy, or low-light situations to provide immediate first aid.

“They're there almost instantaneously,” Lohmeier said. “The time for them to respond is much, much shorter. So there's a very big advantage for the patient.”

Firefighters said fitting TEMS training into the already busy schedules of paramedics is often a challenge. Madison's police and fire chiefs are hoping to secure an extra $30-thousand or so in the upcoming city budget to help make sure all TEMS medics can keep up their training.

Watch 27 News Sunday night at 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. for more on the TEMS unit and what its duties include.

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