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Tactical Rescue

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What makes a tactical rescue different from other sorts of emergency operations?

Law enforcement, military and security forces confront specific and particular risks regarding rescue operations. Tactical rescue implies hazards which are added to those proper of the environment; thus, such operations are indeed different to what we could find at holiday resorts where someone may suffer an accident or get lost and as such, the gear used should and indeed is very different, as well as any applicable techniques.

All rescue situations are serious, and all people involved in any of those is respectable, but we can say that almost in all cases tactical operations are more demanding.

Combat rescue and medicine can be divided conceptually in two different areas: actual combat medicine, and peacekeeping operations. In the first case we deal with the treatment of war and combat wounds and casualties, while in the second, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation related to non-combatants caught in the fray.

That is, military doctors confront two very different but equally difficult and traumatic scenarios: one implies proper emergencies, and the other treatment of very painful and deep wounds and scars, both physically as well as psychologically. A lot of war veterans and civilians who were involved in combat suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as well as other difficult to detect ailments of de mind in addition to the horrific wounds that their bodies often suffer too.

Police officers and firemen confront situations similar to those found at war, albeit at relatively smaller scale; however, these cases need some serious addressing too. I will never forget how once, as I was witnessing how a vintage steam train intended for tourists in Bariloche, Patagonia, went off the train station at a man's pace, blowing the whistle, with people with happy faces waving their hands. And in an instant, an old lady just fell down into the train's path.

The train stopped almost immediately; the old woman suffered a broken leg; her bones were exposed and it was indeed a rather painful and bloody scene. She was save thanks to someone who pulled her to the side of the platform and off the rails. In a few minutes she was in her way to the hospital thanks to the police officers and firemen that appeared on the scene, but this shows the kind of situations that could develop during the blink of an eye; I was a first-row witness of that event.

Now imagine what kind of difficulties policemen and soldiers confront when attempting some sort of tactical rescue on the fly, not only with people as seriously wounded at that lady, but under fire, in combat. Such tasks can only be performed by elite rescuers and indeed, most armed forces provide specific, very intensive training for their field doctors and rescue operatives such as helicopter pilots, support personnel, sling and hook operators, scuba divers, etc.

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