Ada County Paramedics TacMed team crucial in first response for medical aid

Posted at 12:56 PM, Jul 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-08 15:03:53-04

Local law enforcement and fire crews aren't the only ones called to the scene of a standoff, shooting, or armed subject. The Ada County Paramedics TacMed Team also responds, providing crucial medical care to high-risk law enforcement specialty teams.

The nine member team supports the Boise Police Department's Special Operations Unit and the Ada County Sheriff's Metro SWAT team, bringing hospital-quality emergency care directly to the scene. The paramedics train and work alongside officers serving high-risk warrants and barricaded subjects.

"Our main goal is to provide point of wound care to the officers who are conducting the operations and then take care of any of the civilians that may be impacted," Tactical Paramedic Team Leader Chris Shandera said. "We're very fortunate as a community that we have these people standing by at a moments notice to render aid in any sort of hostile situation."

More often than not, that means treating the suspect, in many cases, with gunshot wounds.

The dedicated team is always "on call" and dispatched to locations across the county at a moment's notice.

"24 hours a day, 7 days a week, anytime," Shandera said. "It doesn't matter if we're at a kid's birthday party or a family reunion. If the phone rings because theres some kind of situation that's occurring in the city, we respond."

Crews come loaded with equipment built for dozens of situations, all kinds of weather, and never know how long they'll be needed on scene. Each unit brings fire resistant uniforms, a bullet proof vest and helmet for protection, and an array of medical equipment allowing care to start immediately, while still at the scene.

"A lot of these times the officers, victims or suspects that we're treating are getting a similar level of treatment on the side of the road or a structure that they would be getting in an emergency room," Shandera said. "Whether it's a gunshot wound or someone who's unconscious, or an overdose, we can provide life saving care right then, bridging the gap of time to get them to an emergency room or an operation suite."

Armored vehicles, like BPD's BearCat, can serve as a makeshift treatment room.

"It's kind of set up as a last point of cover, a hardened structure, so that if we were to encounter any violent acts, we could take cover behind it, and use the vehicle to rescue innocent persons," Shandera said.

The bulletproof vehicle served useful in the November 11 shooting last fall on the Boise Bench that left two Boise Police officers injured and the suspect dead. A BPD K9 also died days later from injuries during the shootout.

"That day, unfortunately, people were injured, and it's what we train for so they reacted like they were trained to take care of those injured officers," Shandera said. "We provided everything from hemorrhage control, applying tourniquets, to starting IVs and administering medications."

Prior to leaving for rehab last winter, injured officer Cpl. Kevin Holtry  credited the Ada County TacMed team with saving his life.

"They had me in the back of our armored vehicle and they were throwing tourniquets on and IVs, everything they could do to keep me from dying and they did," Cpl. Holtry said in December.

"Every month we spend several hours training for those situations," Shandera said, "it's absolutely the worst case scenario and I think that day our paramedics provided the best care possible."

The monthly training is a collaboration among agencies, because when lives are on the line, teamwork is crucial.

"Time is of the essence when we're talking about managing trauma," Shandera said.