As the word spread, more emergency medical providers became interested in the concept. In 1989 we created a “Tactical BTLS” program that combined medical assessment and treatment skills with situations and problems encountered on tactical operations. The idea was to bring a trained and educated medical operator into the tactical arena and get away from the practice of just having an ambulance on stand-by somewhere in the area. The response was overwhelming and we knew that we would not be able to stop there. It became clear that more time was necessary in order to cover more than just a familiarization and the basics.
In June of 1990 the first Tactical EMS School was held at the St. Paul, Minnesota Fire Training Academy. The cost was $100 and the class was three days long. Students were provided with a tee shirt, bratwurst and BBQ on the first day, and the most practical, informative and professional product available. We understand that this is a very bold statement, but feel that it can be made for several reasons:
- We attend regular training and participate in much of the advertised tactical EMS offerings that are out there. We have seen some really good stuff but also some things that could not reasonably be called “training.”
- Our participants and graduates consistently tell us our time spent together has been very rewarding both personally and professionally. Many relate that our School is the most positive educational experience they have ever had. (Not only in TEMS, but in any adult learning program!)
- Some of our graduates request to return as coaches-in-training, and many enroll to take the course again.
In the first few years we tried to cram everything into a three day session. Several times we went into our own pockets to pay for incidentals such as the “welcome BBQ” we offer on the first evening. The bill for the tee shirts and notebooks was often greater than the student fees we collected! Since our charter flight as a “School” in 1990 we have changed many things:
- In 1993 we departed from the seminar format and organized the instructional blocks into modules with a separate source document and lesson plan for each unit. This change helped make our “School” a more professional education product. (Several of our current cadre members are full-time professional educators.)
- At the continued urging of our graduates we made the course longer. It is currently about 70 hours in length and spans six days. We conduct more “training” and less “familiarization.” We know we cannot cover everything, but our graduates leave with an excellent foundation to build upon.
- Since 1995 we have used a secure location such as a military base. This type of facility meets our needs for classrooms, outdoor breakout areas, MOUT villages, gas houses, participant billeting and food service better than most civilian convention centers. Our most popular program became known as “The Essentials of Tactical EMS” and runs for 60 hours over 6 days. You still get a tee shirt and BBQ on the first day too!
- In 2003 we left behind the encumbrances of a university system in order to continue driving our program in the direction we believed was best for our peers and fellow team members.
- 2005 marked our 10th year of training at Camp Ripley.
- In 2012 we celebrated our 25th anniversary.