First responders get hands-on training in serious injuries

By Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 30, 2013 

When Jennifer Foreman first began training law enforcement agencies in combat first aid almost three years ago, she never envisioned it would turn into a career.

Foreman -- a tactical medic for Chelan County's Regional SWAT Team -- was asked to create a program that would prepare officers to treat life-threatening injuries.

She based the training off the military's model for combat and tailored it to help transform patrol officers into first responders when necessary.

"I had to create a company because there was so much interest," said Foreman, who runs Combat First Aid. "I didn't plan on starting a training company."

Foreman and her team of trainers from across the state were in West Richland to train a group of 15 men and women from 11 different agencies Monday, including at least five local agencies.

They spent the day teaching the trainees how to properly care for victims with serious injuries -- including fellow officers and themselves. The class used hands-on techniques to blend military first aid with tactical training.

One exercise had them feeling through slabs of pork -- which resembled human flesh -- to try to find two different bullets. The two hunks of meat were shot with a .223 caliber bullet and a .45 caliber bullet.

The trainees then had to plug the bullet holes, which were pumped full of fake blood from an IV, with gauze and other materials.

"Combat first aid is like nothing they are required to attend in the academy," said Sgt. David Machado of the Edmonds Police Department, a master defensive tactics trainer. "It marries the two sides of patrol-related safety and combative skills to life-saving medical requirements."

Participants also were taught how to properly use a tourniquet, identify injuries and even help mentally stabilize patients. They spent the morning learning and getting comfortable with the medical side of first aid before testing their knowledge in real-life scenarios.

"If they don't have the proper training they will bleed out and die," Foreman said. "We demystify the big medical words and terminology and make it so they can do quick, simple things to provide (medical) care."

Foreman has taken her specialized training throughout the state and taught some classes to law enforcement agencies in Idaho, she said. Three officers have reported using the training to save a life.

Machado has spent a majority of his career teaching officers how to use force to control dangerous situations, he said. He believes none of his previous instruction is as beneficial as the first-aid combat training.

"It's most important to understand preventable types of injuries and recognize them as being life-threatening," he said. "This creates an opportunity to develop their skills so they are confident dealing with those injuries."

The response from participants in Monday's class was positive, Foreman said. They seemed appreciative of the knowledge they gained and she hopes they will share it with the rest of their departments.

Foreman hopes to back in the Tri-Cities again, she said.

"Not a lot of departments have this training," she said. "Every officer walks away excited they have new skills, but also with the reality that they should have gotten this in the academy. It's very real. They always want more."

To learn more about Foreman and her staff, go to

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; Twitter; @Ty_richardson

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