January 10, 2022

Letter from the Editor

Dr. Dominique Wong, MD
Chief Editor, Tactical Emergency Medicine Section

Law enforcement (LE) and medicine interface regularly in today’s world. As emergency physicians, we see this interface often in our own emergency departments and in our pre-hospital work. For instance, a law enforcement suspect may become a medical patient and vice versa. We also provide care for law enforcement officers in the event they are injured or sick.

The medicine-law enforcement interface is evidenced in the article: Considerations in the Cold Weather Ops. An incredibly experienced TEMS physician, and TEMS section chair, author Dr. John Wipfler describes an important topic in TEMS: the effects of the environment on job performance. His article is an excellent reminder to train like you work: in the cold, heat, rain, dark. He adeptly brings medical advice on prevention of hypothermia to the law enforcement context.

The separation of medicine and law enforcement was broached on the institutional level by the advent of Tactical Emergency Medicine (TEMS). Much work has been done on this front. However, the law enforcement-medicine interface often expands beyond the scope of TEMS.

In this quarter’s newsletter we begin the conversation on other areas needing collaboration between LE and medicine. The topics addressed in this issue are medically relevant for LE: suicide, premature cardiac disease, exercise recommendations and environmental concerns for LEO.

Evidence shows that the majority of law enforcement line of duty deaths occur during non-S.W.A.T. activities. Unlike with S.W.A.T. TEMS, the average patrol officer does not have immediately available medical personnel. Therefore, law enforcement officers must be prepared to bridge the gap from an incident until medical care arrives. LEO medical training must expand to context-specific, training for all officers and for a variety of anticipated situations. As reviewed in this newsletter, mass casualty triage training is one example of necessary law enforcement medical skills.

Building on TEMS successes and foundation, physicians have a tremendous opportunity to provide further evidence-based, support of our law enforcement partners.

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