PALM BAY, Florida — Six Palm Bay Firefighter-paramedics are now part of Palm Bay Police Department’s SWAT team and are able to respond to critical incidents in order to provide immediate medical support when necessary, according to a Palm Bay Police Department news release.
The firefighters added to the team were selected after an intensive 12-plus hour tryout held in late July that tested not only their physical strength but their ability to make decisions and perform their job duties during high-stress and physical exhaustion. There will be at least two SWAT medics on duty at all times and they will respond with the SWAT team during all deployments.
“All over the country we’ve seen incidents as recently as the one in Aurora, Colorado where swat teams are deployed and they’re on scene and there’s an immediate need for some kind of medical assistance even when the situation is still active,” said Lt. Steve Bland, SWAT commander. “The tactical medic is a requirement, it’s no longer an option. It’s an absolute necessity to have these medics trained to respond in this way.”
During the daylong tryout the firefighters were put through several scenarios including an active shooter situation where an officer was wounded. The firefighter-paramedic was tested in his ability to provide medical attention to the wounded officer while under fire.
“Basically they’re going to have to meet the same physical, mental and emotional requirements that a SWAT officer does, in addition to the fire-rescue responsibilities that they carry,” said Fire Chief Jim Stables. “A firefighter doesn’t normally get shot at during the performance of their duties but that’s not to say in society it doesn’t happen. The interesting thing is to put them in that scenario and see how they respond so they’re prepared for it.”
The SWAT team will train each SWAT-medic in tactical response as well as provide them with ballistic protection. The medics will not be responding as law enforcement officers. Their mission is to provide immediate medical support during active law enforcement operations in the event an officer, suspect, or citizen is injured.
“I think it’s a great addition to the SWAT team,” said Firefighter-EMT Nick Swoboda who was one of the six medics selected for the program. “Without having somebody that knows the medical field, how to triage, how to take care of team members I feel their chances of survival if they are shot goes way down. Even just a quick putting on a tourniquet can save someone’s life so I think it’s a huge deal.”
The Palm Bay Police Department SWAT team is used in the execution of high risk search warrants, dealing with barricaded subjects, hostage situations and other critical incidents. There are currently 18 active members available for deployment. Additionally, the six medics selected for the program are Firefighter/EMT Brandon Button, Lt. Paramedic Gaius Hall, Firefighter/Paramedic Brian Miller, Firefighter/EMT Nicholas Swoboda, Lt. Paramedic John Anthony, and Driver Engineer/Paramedic Brandon McKee.