As a police officer, you are not expected to have a medical background, nor am I suggesting officers should have one. However, most police officers are required to hold yearly certifications in subjects like CPR and First Aid. This can definitely be an advantage.
However, It must be clear that the conditions which are presented while under fire change the priorities that are commonly listed in a first aid course. The urgency for quick movement, addressing the threat and communication of our assessment may not allow enough time.
Your assessment should involve a “triage” like approach. Under these conditions (care under fire) it comes down to SICK or NOT SICK.
Sick is a term that is widely used in our country. In this context, however; an officer described as SICK, implies the officer is critically injured and will die in the next 15-20 minutes. In other words, he has sustained life threatening injuries. These injuries will require immediate action by the injured officer or another, in order to prevent death.
Not sick is also a commonly used term In the care under fire context, an officer described as NOT SICK, implies that while injured, the officer will survive for at least the immediate time being. Therefore, the officer has sustained Non-life threatening injuries. These injuries will not require any immediate action by the injured or another, to sustain life.
I often ask students if they should obtain this status from the injured officer, either by radio or by calling out to them? Most reply, it would appear to be the most appropriate.
I then ask them to consider the officer who has that “Warrior Mindset” and if that officer will likely admit, or allow themselves to believe, he or she is SICK? I certainly do not want them to.
In other words, we have to be very careful while obtaining this information. If while providing psychological first aid over the radio, telling the officer that you are on the way, you can determine their status, then good. I recommend you don’t ask the officer their triage status, because in their mind, they should be saying they will survive!
Keep in mind, the officer’s status is just one factor in your hasty rescue plan. Do not allow yourself to become emotionally involved and get drawn into becoming a another victim. If this occurs, you won’t be able to perform the rescue, and now a second rescue (for you) is required. Scene safety!