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Tactical emergency care for law enforcement: Direct threat care

This phase is characterized by the presence of an immediate, ongoing threat

In the third of a nine-part series, Robert Carlson from Brave Defender Training Group highlights the critical importance of the direct threat care phase.

This phase is characterized by the presence of an immediate, ongoing threat, such as an active shooter or hazardous material. First responders must quickly identify the phase of care they are in, as the wrong intervention at the wrong time can be fatal.

Key learning points

  1. Phases of TECC: Understanding the phases — direct threat care, indirect threat care and evacuation care — is vital for appropriate response.
  2. Immediate danger management: Prioritize mitigating the immediate threat and controlling life-threatening bleeding during direct threat care.
  3. Proficiency in self-aid: Officers must be skilled in self-aid, particularly in applying tourniquets, while managing ongoing threats.
  4. Movement to safety: Move from the injury point to a safer location to increase survivability and allow for better medical intervention.
  5. Focused medical interventions: During this phase, the primary intervention is the application of a tourniquet to control severe extremity bleeding; other treatments are too time-consuming and risky.

Do your officers have the confidence and training necessary to effectively apply a tourniquet? In this video, you’ll learn about the five important steps of effectively using a tourniquet in critical situations.

Questions for discussion

  1. Why is it critical to correctly identify the phase of care in tactical scenarios?
  2. What are examples of threats qualifying as direct threat care beyond an active shooter?
  3. How can first responders balance immediate medical care with ongoing threat management?
  4. What training is essential for officers to effectively apply self-aid in high-pressure situations?
  5. How can agencies prepare officers for the complexities of the direct threat care phase?

Coming up next month: TECC M.A.R.C.H.

Robert Carlson is a firearms instructor for the Memphis (Tennessee) Police Department specializing in active shooter, counterambush and tactical medicine training. He is the lead TECC instructor for the Mississippi National Guard’s Regional Counterdrug Training Academy, providing no-cost training to law enforcement across the country. He has been recognized as an expert in active shooter response by law enforcement. Carlson also owns Brave Defender Training Group and is an IADLEST nationally certified instructor.