May 3, 2024 4 min read

Police responding to a traffic collision. More officers are undergoing emergency medical training for law enforcement.

Policing Trends: Emergency Medical Training for Law Enforcement


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Law EnforcementVector LMS and Training Management
Police responding to a traffic collision. More officers are undergoing emergency medical training for law enforcement.

Whether it be responding to a domestic dispute, an active shooter, public intoxication, or any of the other innumerable situations law enforcement respond to, there will be cases where police respond to medical emergencies. In those situations, when mere moments can mean the difference between life and death, effective medical response from those officers could save lives.

However, effectual response requires that officers have the right training and knowledge to provide proper care and avoid any mistakes that could make a bad situation worse. For this reason, departments around the country are offering emergency medical training for law enforcement officers, in addition to those officers who have sought out training in their own time and at their own expense.

First Aid vs. Emergency Medical Responders

Law enforcement officers have long been trained in basic first aid skills or basic medical tactical training, usually including things like CPR, staunching blood flow, and the use of automated external defibrillators (AED). More recently, many agencies have begun providing officers with Naloxone in an effort to prevent deaths from drug overdose.

However, local and state requirements for giving aid and training vary around the country, and while some officers may receive basic first aid training on a regular basis, some may only receive it as part of academy training.

For those officers that receive training, whether at the academy or as part of continuing education, basic first aid training only addresses a very small portion of everything that could be considered a medical emergency. This is where the formalized structure of prehospital care comes into play.

In the hierarchy of prehospital care, emergency medical responders (EMR), sometimes referred to by other similar titles, typically have less intensive training than emergency medical technicians (EMT), advanced emergency medical technicians (AEMT), and paramedics.

This level of training, initially established as First Responder training by the Department of Transportation in 1979, was to “fill the gap” between those trained in basic first aid and EMTs. Today, EMRs are an official certification level recognized by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) and are more heavily regulated than in years past.

However, this “gap” between first aid and EMTs is exactly what many law enforcement officers and agencies are interested in.

As specified by NREMT, “[EMRs] have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide immediate lifesaving interventions while awaiting additional EMS resources to arrive.”

In situations when an officer is the first on the scene to a medical emergency or is at a call that turns into a medical emergency, being able to provide those immediate interventions could keep an individual alive long enough for EMS to arrive.

The Role of Law Enforcement in Emergency Medical Care

While there is significant interest in emergency medical training for law enforcement, there are also important discussions to be had about the role officers who have more advanced emergency medical training should play and the best way to cooperate with EMS and fire departments effectively.

Today, the methods employed by agencies varies. Some have simply increased the amount or quality of their first aid training or created new programs to provide additional training.

On the other hand, some departments have taken it a step further by incorporating training programs to provide officers with the training needed to become certified as EMTs. A few agencies have even implemented official EMR or EMT units, including the Greensburgh Police Department and Seattle Police Department.

How Can Departments Provide Emergency Medical Training for Law Enforcement?

Despite the wide variety of approaches taken by agencies providing emergency medical training to law enforcement, they all run up against the same challenges:

  • How to source emergency medical training in a way that’s cost effective
  • How to provide emergency medical training to officers on top of other training needs
  • If officers earn a certification, how to ensure they receive the training they need to maintain that certification

If your agency is among those looking to expand emergency medical training for your officers, Vector Solutions can help. Our catalog of 250+ hours of CAPCE-accredited EMS online training allows first responders, EMT-Basics, EMT-Intermediates and EMT-Paramedics in most states to complete their continuing education requirements for recertification in an engaging and easy-to-use format. These courses can also be utilized to supplement and expand upon your existing first aid training.

Whether you’re providing training to individual officers, or as part of an agency-wide training initiative and delivered through a police training management system, we can help you provide additional medical training to your officers and maintain EMS certifications.

Check out our EMS catalog for course titles and to learn more about our CAPCE-accredited online EMS training.

Vector Solutions’ suite of industry-leading software solutions for law enforcement includes training management systems, online training courses, FTO/PTO/CTO/live skill evaluations, academy automation, and an early intervention and conduct management system.

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