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Fact Sheet - Medic Program

May, 2018
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Fast Facts

  1. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has an established and dedicated medical component through the ATF Medic Program

  2. The ATF medic team is a mixture of emergency medical technicians advanced EMTs and paramedics.

  3. In 2017, more than 70 medics supported more than 700 operations and training courses nationwide.

In 1993, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) established a dedicated medical component through the ATF Medic Program in partnership with the Casualty Care Research Center and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and held a basic Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) school at Fort Bragg, N.C. Thirty ATF special agents attended to obtain training in pre-hospital trauma life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and to gain experience from military Special Forces medics. Prior to this, medical care during ATF operations was provided on an ad-hoc basis. Special agents with prior medical training used their own supplies and equipment, there were no standards, and no formal training or policies related to their capability to provide medical care during high-risk operations.

The ATF medic team now is a mixture of EMTs, advanced EMTs (AEMT) and paramedics. All levels of providers must recertify with the National Registry of EMTs (NREMT) every two years. The EMTs and AEMTs are trained to perform skills far above their civilian certification.

For ATF medics to practice, they follow a strict training regimen. They must complete the yearly requirements set forth by the NREMT and must prove their worth to the ATF Medical Director, Dr. Nelson Tang. Dr. Tang is the Vice Chairman of Emergency Medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. Through his team of physicians, nurses and paramedics, Dr. Tang provides ATF medics with training and operational support.

ATF medics continually train. They spend one day a month with an emergency medical services (EMS) provider near their post of duty, which helps them maintain their proficiency in patient care. The medics must also travel annually to one of several agencies where ATF maintains a training relationship. These agencies provide excellent clinical opportunities for ATF medics to gain valuable experience providing medical care ranging from typical EMS and emergency department settings to police aviation and marine bureaus under any circumstance.   

 ATF medics serve in a variety of roles, including being part of every ATF Special Response Team (SRT) mission and training exercise and supporting every National Response Team (NRT) activation. They also support a variety of National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR) events including the Ravens Challenge interagency training exercises. ATF medics are responsible for caring for any injuries that may occur during missions and training, to include law enforcement or fire service canines. They are also responsible for maintaining the health of team members during a mission by addressing issues including hydration, nutrition, sick call, sanitation and team rest. A large portion of an ATF medic’s job during an operational or training event is to ensure that every team member remains able to complete his or her mission.

 As part of their duties, medics are also required to complete a medical threat assessment (MTA) prior to any operation (post of duty or national mission). The MTA contains information about the local trauma center, burn center, EMS provider, medical helicopter availability, canine medical center and more. The medics must have a copy of the driving route to the closest trauma center and have verified the route prior to the operation commencing.

 Medics provide support for the operations conducted at their post of duty. These operations include undercover and informant operations, warrant service, range days and training. ATF medics also teach tactical medicine to all field agents through the Special Agent First Responder course.

In 2017, more than 70 medics supported more than 700 operations and training courses nationwide.

With the exception of select full-time SRT operator medics, ATF medics carry out these duties part-time, while they remain full-time, case-producing special agents and/or have other primary ATF enforcement duties.



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