What is Tactical Medicine?

Tactical Medicine is a rapidly expanding subspecialty of EMS where the tactical medicine providers (TMPs) are medical professionals who use their skills to help ensure the health and safety of all persons at the scene of a high-threat critical incident where a SWAT or other law enforcement or military special operations team is involved. TMPs are specially trained and equipped with unique medical, ballistic, and operational gear. TMPs learn and maintain a unique skill set that allows them to accompany their law enforcement and military team mates in an effort to help resolve the crisis that threatens their community.

What is TacMed Essentials?

TacMed Essentials is an organization of instructors who are dedicated to sharing their experience with others in order to help ensure that public safety professions and medical personnel are more capable of providing close-up emergency medical care rendering assistance to law enforcement and military special operations teams. Medical support directly contributes to mission success. The organization is dedicated to expanding the number of qualified instructors who can teach the courses, as well as increasing the number of "TMPs" throughout the world. These courses are founded and supported by the authors of the new textbook "Tactical Medicine Essentials", (Jones and Bartlett Learning, Inc) which has over 120 expert contributors from throughout the world (civilian and military experts).

Who endorses the course and textbook?

The course textbook is endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), and the TacMed Essentials (TME) course that was developed from this textbook is officially endorsed by ITLS (International Trauma Life Support). Instructors of the TacMed Essentials Courses must apply and be certified. TME instructors can be previously experienced in PHTLS, ATT, ATLS, ITLS, or other 2-day (or longer) EMS-style trauma course, and are not limited to only ITLS instructors.

What is Unique About TacMed Essentials?

The TacMed Essentials Course include two different 2-day courses (TME and Advanced TME) that are hands-on action-packed courses. In addition, a third course is a 1-day train-the-trainer course for those who want to become an instructor. These courses are designed to teach medics, firefighters, medical personnel, and LEOs how to provide tactical medicine in a high-threat environment. The curriculum is built upon a new textbook that has over 120 world-wide expert contributors and authors with both civilian and military special operations medical experience. The course is endorsed by ITLS, and the textbook authors who "wrote the book" (endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians) have focused their talents in creating the TacMed Essentials Courses. One author and many contributors have been involved in recent collective national TEMS / Tactical Medicine curriculum meetings, and the core content is entirely consistent with soon-to-be-released national standards.
Those who complete this challenging course will take home an enhanced skill set of tactical medical skills, and will have a far better knowledge of SWAT tactics and how to respond to a critical community crisis involving criminals and/or terrorists. This course is unique in that each student will be issued and taught how to use a modern semiautomatic pistol (use of Airsoft CO2 pistols and holsters provided), along with close-quarters self-defense skills, firearm safety, disarming strategies, and combat pistol skills. All students will be issued protective equipment and an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) for this course, to utilize for SABACA (self-aid, buddy-aid, citizen-aid).
All students who have taken this course are able to take home the lessons learned and apply it to their daily EMS / Medical / Fire / Law Enforcement public safety profession. Some have gone further and taken advanced training to become active SWAT medics / TMPs (tactical medical providers). For each of the 2-day TME courses, Certification for CME credits of 14 hours will be issued to medics and nurses. Are you up to the challenge?

Three Key Features of the TacMed Essentials Courses

There are three key features of the TacMed Essentials Courses:

First, the tactical and medical course content is founded upon the tremendous contributions and input from over 120 world-wide experts in tactical medicine, whose wisdom and experience are condensed into the core curriculum and principles contained in the highly regarded "Tactical Medicine Essentials" textbook. This course is built from the ground up for support of civilian tactical law enforcement, and is not an adaptation of battlefield medicine attempted to be wedged into the civilian sector. Certainly there are excellent military-based principles learned from hard-fought battles, and the important ones have been incorporated into these courses and textbook by the authors.

Second, this course emphasizes hands-on skills building, and over half of the course time is spent performing hands-on searches, tactical patient assessments, improvised medical techniques unique to the tactical environment, tourniquet applications, advanced airway procedures, self-defense and close quarters battle (CQB), criminal tactics and tricks and ways to counter them. In addition, firearms and safety, and scenario-based training performing simulated SWAT entries is the highlight of the courses. Each student is issued for the day the equipment needed, including medical gear, flashlight, protective eyewear, and are armed with an accurate hard-hitting realistic metal Airsoft pistol and holster. Each class is taught by both tactical medicine experts and SWAT experts (law enforcement officers highly experienced in tactics). Weapons familiarization and handling, marksmanship, basic and advanced handgun close quarters combat skills, disarming techniques, and live-fire Airsoft pistol force-on-force engagements are taught during both of these two 2-day courses. The Advanced TME Course (day 3 and 4) builds upon the skill sets learned in the first 2 day TME Course. Students who have proven / documented prior tactical medicine training are welcome to directly attend the advanced course. These classes are high-speed, and require a prerequisite that the student must have previously completed a two-day or longer trauma course such as ITLS, PHTLS, ATT, or an equivalent trauma course.

The third unique feature of the TME courses is the knowledge and skills in dealing with criminal / terrorist weapons and tactics. These lessons learned by each student EMT, paramedic, firefighter, medical personnel, and LEOs are useful for every-day street medicine when responding to EMS scenes, fires, or other community crisis involving criminals. Securing and searching before medical treatment is a key principle incorporated into the tactical patient assessment (TPA), using the mnemonic "Call-A-CAB-N-Go-Hot". This approach is a valuable and proven way to approach, assess, and treat downed officers and other casualties.

The TacMed Essentials Course is endorsed by ITLS, and may be taught by experienced instructors who have applied and have been successfully screened, trained, and certified. A letter of reference from a law enforcement agency is required from all instructor applicants, which will help ensure that all instructors meet a standard level of reliability and document good honest character. Although the ITLS instructor network will certainly be a primary resource for expanding courses, instructors of other prehospital courses (PHTLS, ATT, ATLS, etc) or equivalent military instructors who have experience in tactical medicine and wish to teach these TME courses will be encouraged to apply. See the Instructor Info details listed on this website.

About the Authors of TacMed Essentials

John E. Campbell, MD, FACEP

Dr. John Campbell has been a practicing emergency physician for over thirty years. He currently serves as the State Medical Director of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma for Alabama. Dr. Campbell is the founder, president, and editor of International Trauma Life Support (formerly BTLS - Basic Trauma Life Support), an organization of teachers of prehospital trauma care whose course is taught worldwide. He is recognized internationally as a teacher of prehospital trauma care. Dr. Campbell is the author of the original Basic Trauma Life Support textbook and he and Jim Smith co-authored, Homeland Security and EMS Response. The son of a U.S. Deputy Marshal, Dr. Campbell worked part-time as a guard for the Marshal’s Office while he was in college. He was once a member of the Opelika, Alabama police pistol team and is currently the medical director for a tactical EMS squad. He is an active member of the Alabama Terrorism and Tactical Operations Medical Support Course Advisory Committee, and the Alabama State Trauma Advisory Committee. He served with the U.S. Army National Guard for over 20 years, attaining the rank of Captain. Dr. Campbell served as a councilor and President, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. He has received numerous awards, including the EMS Award (first recipient) from the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a Certificate of Appreciation from the Surgeon General of the United States for services to the Medical Department Regiment. He is currently writing a history of the 2nd Marine Division in World War Two.


Chief Jim Smith’s background includes more than 30 years of public safety experience, which includes working in a variety of settings including law enforcement with professional involvement as a firefighter and paramedic. He continues to practice as a police chief, EMT Paramedic and firefighter in a rural town. Smith also teaches criminal justice courses as an adjunct faculty member for the Troy University Dothan and for the University of Phoenix. His academic background includes a Master of Science in Safety from the University of Southern California, a BS in Chemistry and Biology, and an AS in emergency medical technology. Smith is also a Certified Emergency Manager, Certified Advanced Law Enforcement Planner and currently serves as a certified police chief. He has served as a 911 district communications director for a center dispatching more than 30 agencies, served as a commander of an FBI certified bomb squad and clandestine drug laboratory entry and assessment team, law enforcement rescue dive team, and police planning and research section. He is a graduate of the US Army Chemical School Domestic Countermeasures program, is a hazardous materials technician, WMD technician, clandestine drug laboratory safety certified and former health physics technician at an operating nuclear power facility. Smith has published three textbooks including: a text on responding to bomb and WMD threats, a text addressing law enforcement management and supervision, in addition to a text on homeland security emergency response. Smith’s publications include more than 50 articles in refereed journals including practical research in blast mitigation, pipe bomb fragment propagation and blast suppression. This research has led to the issuance of a US Patent and the production of specialized blast mitigation equipment being manufactured to meet this need. Smith is a member of the International Society of Explosive Engineers, International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, a professional member of the American Society of Safety Engineers, and is Certified Homeland Security Level III by the American Board for Homeland Security Certification.

E. John Wipfler, III, MD, FACEP

Dr. John Wipfler is a Professor of Surgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, and has worked over 20 years as a residency-trained board certified attending emergency at a high-acuity Level 1 trauma center. He has taught tactical medicine for over 17 years, and continues to support 3 SWAT teams in the Midwest. His experience as a tactical physician has been put to good use as an instructor at the International School of Tactical Medicine, which is the only tactical medicine training school certified by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He served in the United States Armed Forces for 14 years, attaining the rank of Major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, serving in Panama and volunteering for Desert Storm. He has been a leader working with law enforcement since 1994, supporting tactical operations as a SWAT team physician and medical director for a TEMS element for 3 tactical teams in central Illinois.

Dr. Wipfler co-founded the first tactical EMS unit in the state of Illinois (STATT - Special Tactical Assistance Trauma Team). He is a sworn Sheriff’s Physician and auxiliary Deputy Sheriff who has been involved in tactical operations on over 125 SWAT callouts. The STATT Tactical EMS unit (3 physicians, 1 nurse, 2 paramedics) supports three law enforcement tactical teams: Central Illinois Emergency Response Team (CIERT), Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm Services team (ILEAS region 6/7), and the Peoria City Police Department Special Response Team (SRT). He also supports callouts and/or training with the U.S. Secret Service (presidential motorcade escorts), U.S. Marshals Service, and the DEA. He has flown helicopter missions with the U.S. Marshal’s Office Special Operations Group during high-risk prisoner transport. As a certified NRA Firearm Instructor, he is a qualified Expert Marksman in pistol, small-bore and high-power rifle. Dr. Wipfler routinely teaches firearms safety classes integrated with tactical medicine principles. He has completed multiple military and civilian tactical / medical courses, including the Chapman Academy (Basic and Advanced Pistol, Tactical Rifle), Combat Casualty Care Course, CONTOMS, REAC/TS radioactive injury management course, Heckler and Koch Tactical EMS course, advanced courses with the International School of Tactical Medicine (now serves as instructor x 7 years), USAMRIID Chemical and Biological Warfare School, InSights Training (CQB), and Strike Tactical Solutions close quarters combat courses. He was one of the original founders and medical director of the Region 2 RMERT disaster response team in central Illinois, and has deployed on multiple real-world disasters including several large tornado strikes with mass casualties. Illinois has one state-wide disaster response agency, the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT) and Dr. Wipfler served with 12 others on the founding executive council to help create IMERT, which continues to be a national leader in volunteer disaster response teams. He served for 5 years as medical director of Life Flight, the busiest air medical program in Illinois.

He is the principal author of Tactical Medicine Essentials, and also co-authored textbooks (Emergency Medicine NMS, Firearms Safety) and textbook chapters (ITLS Tactical Medicine Chapter, others) and multiple tactical medicine / research papers. Dr. Wipfler lectures nationally, and teaches tactical medicine, disaster preparedness, bioterrorism / WMD response, and advanced emergency ultrasound at the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine.

Dr. Wipfler created and continues to lead one of the first emergency medicine residency program Tactical Medicine elective rotations in the United States, started in 1999. As the Co-chair of the Illinois Tactical Officer's Association (ITOA) tactical EMS committee, he has been involved instructing Tactical EMS with the ITOA and other law agencies, and has co-chaired the annual ITOA Tactical Medicine Conference for 6 years.

Over the past 5 years, he continues to lead and remain involved in efforts to better organize and improve tactical medicine. He was personally asked to serve with an 18 - member tactical medicine coalition in California, and this task force successfully worked alongside the California Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training and California EMS Authority (EMSA) to create the State of California Tactical Medicine Operational Program and Standardized Training Recommendations, approved in March 2010 (first in the United States). He has participated with numerous dedicated individuals on a task force to help create national core curriculum training guidelines in tactical medicine. In the Midwest he is actively involved in bringing out legislation that will improve close-up medical support for law enforcement professionals.

In his spare time, he enjoys climbing mountains (Rainier, Matterhorn, Shasta, and other high elevations closer to God), fly-fishing, scuba-diving, and spending time with his family and friends. He is Blessed to be able to work with a lot of great folks to help bring about close-up medical support for the brave men and women in uniform that make this world a better place, and remains dedicated to helping bring about advances in excellent medicine, in bad places, at lightning speed.

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