More Doctors Helping Police, Victims at Crime Scenes

More Doctors Helping Police, Victims At Crime Scenes

SWAT team medics accompanying law enforcement are tending to wounded officers, treating civilians and even advising what to tell suspects holding injured hostages. And insurers are taking notice.

Policeman and bruised man with handcuffs in hospital

These doctors bring house calls to a whole new level.

When you picture a SWAT team, you may be thinking about police wearing protective gear, weapons at the ready, during a hostage standoff or some other crisis. But that team might also include doctors, poised and ready to rush to a wounded officer’s aid or dispense advice on what to tell a suspect who is holding an injured hostage.

Or they may be treating an officer exposed to a powerful opioid such as fentanyl, which can be extremely hazardous when touched or inhaled.

Doctors joining SWAT teams have become a fixture of law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. Some even volunteer, feeling a sense of civic duty to help those who protect and serve.

“It’s my way of giving back and making sure that my law enforcement colleagues have a chance of going home at the end of the night,” said Andrew Dennis, a trauma surgeon in Chicago and a police officer himself, on a Clinician’s Roundtable podcast. The podcast features top thought leaders in medicine.

Strong decision-making skills make a difference

Physicians’ years of training and experience can help them prepare to make extremely difficult medical choices in a crisis.

“There are certain medical decisions that only a physician can make,” says Bob Marinelli, risk control manager for Argo Group’s Trident Public Risk Solutions, a leader in the public sector insurance and risk management marketplace. “Having a doctor trained in emergency medicine dealing with traumatic injuries adds to the capabilities of other first responders such as EMTs and paramedics.”

Insurers are paying close attention

Insurers including Trident are keeping a close eye on doctors joining law enforcement agencies out in the field. Part of what Trident insures, for example, are instances where law enforcement officers get sued for allegedly violating someone’s civil rights.

“It would show that they’re making an effort to provide immediate medical attention,” Marinelli said. “That they’re trying to do the right thing. Hopefully that could be a mitigating factor in some types of claims.”

Trident is also exploring creating guidelines law enforcement agencies can consider when using doctors in the field. That includes ensuring they have adequate training and coverage.

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