Monday, 3 December 2012

Tactical Rescue Planning

Tactical Rescue: Making the Plan

After the decision has been made to perform a tactical rescue, a tactically sound and medically appropriate plan must be made. These considerations must be balanced. No sense in performing a rescue and creating more casualties because of a poor plan and best intentions. Additionally, it will not be a successful tactical rescue if you cause further injury to the casualty. Remember, the principles of tactical medicine. All aspects of tactical medicine are guided by these fundamentals.

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Tactical considerations

Routes must be planned and COPPED from a friendly and enemy point of view (PoV). Routes should provide cover from fire and surveillance. At the very least, they should provide concealment. Route forward to the casualty and route to nearest cover must be deliberate. Screening movement can be done through the use of obscurants, supporting fire, and distraction. Individual movement should be balanced with speed and security. Is the best plan to use an armoured vehicle bringing your own protection, firepower and evacuation platform with you? ‘No plan survives first contact’. So an alternate plan must be prepared. Additionally, the conditions for an abort must be set and understood by all involved.

Improper technique can increase
 hemorrhage,exacerbate injuries 
and reduce the long term
recovery of casualties.
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Medical considerations

Who is the rescue team? Is the medic actually part of the team? Command may designate the medic too valuable to risk in some cases. Any casualty treatment on the ‘X’ must be weighed against the threat. The 'X' refers to the area zeroed in by your adversary  either by fire, indirect fire or IED. In some cases, a rapidly applied tourniquet may be sensible. In others, 'getting off the X' to a position of cover may be the priority.  If the medic is not going, then the rescue team must be well trained in casualty movement appropriate to the injury. Casualty movement is not ‘one size fits all’. An improperly chosen technique can increase hemorrhage, exacerbate injuries and reduce the long term recovery of casualties. It would be wise to have a few different techniques in your toolbox. Traditionally taught casualty carries, especially the Canadian Forces Battle Fitness Test official drag, are high profile movements and do not allow free use of weapons.

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There are many casualty rescue aids on the market that, with training, will allow for rapid extrication and permit free use of weapons. Improvised casualty rescue aids can be used, but their proper use requires some preparation prior to any mission. Training in casualty rescue aids and your elements action’s on are better done during a training cycle, not on the X.

Improvised Rescue Aid
Takes about 10 minutes to make
 using 2 metres of 1" tubular webbing
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Tactical rescue planning may seem like a protracted process. But, much of the time consuming portions can be mitigated with consistent, realistic and relevant training. Proper training and preparation will allow the cycle of tactical rescue to be an ‘action on’ or ‘standard operating procedure (SOP)’. By practicing these skills at an element level, they can be adapted quickly to the ground and enemy situation. By pre-planning, casualty rescue equipment can be dispersed, throughout your element, to be available regardless of the circumstances. So, when is the last time your element, agency or unit practiced tactical rescue?


Take care out there.

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