Between classes at SVCC, there’s combat medical instructor training going on

Jon Mandrell,  vice president of academics and student services at Sauk Valley Community College, showcases an active-shooter training module. The demonstration is taking place in the Situation Room, an interactive simulation-based training program for law enforcement officers and students.

DIXON – While walking to classes, Sauk Valley Community College students witnessed officers drag “wounded victims” to safety.

The mock scenario Nov. 17 was part of a series of training exercises covering tactical combat casualty care for law enforcement instructors.

Tactical Medical Instructor is an intensive two-day training program that centers on mitigating the loss of life during scenarios in which an armed suspect is still on the scene and casualties already have occurred.

Trainees learn how to apply tourniquets, pack wounds and treat life-threatening injuries in a prolonged and hostile environment with limited medical equipment. The class is closely modeled after a similar program used by the Department of Defense.

“This is above and beyond doing CPR,” said Doug Cappotelli, regional director of Mobile Team Unit One. “Heaven forbid, if there was a school shooting or an officer down, this is what they could do right away to save a life immediately and get them out of danger.”

Mobile Team Unit One works with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to provide state-mandated training to the local police and sheriff’s departments for Whiteside, Lee, Carroll, Ogle, Jo Daviess and Stephenson counties.

Every three years, officers in Illinois are required to undergo continuous training in cultural competency, use of force, high-risk traffic stops and many other areas. They also must become recertified in emergency medical care techniques yearly.

The Tactical Medical Instructor class was funded through a federal grant. It included instructors from the Department of Homeland Security and the sheriff and municipal police departments of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In the past, Mobile Team Unit One has used the college campus as a training ground, and Cappotelli said he foresees future training collaborations with the opening of the college’s police academy.

Moreover, the training represents a shift in the best approach. That puts the focus on helping victims of violence, said Jon Mandrell, vice president of academics and student services at Sauk Valley Community College.

“Law enforcement, in the past, a bunch of the training involved approaching crisis situations as a tactical team. Now it’s first responders trying to be the first ones to get in, save lives, identify where the threat is and, along the way, try to pull people out of the building,” Mandrell said.

Mandrell is working with state and local law enforcement agencies to provide the region with a training site that gets new officers on the streets faster. The college is interested in developing the academy in response to local and state police departments’ concerns over lengthy wait times to replace retiring officers.

In Illinois, departments must hire officers and send them to a police academy for 14 weeks of training. Although there are seven other academies in Illinois, most have a waiting list of up to a year. This dilemma led to officers retiring faster than departments could replace them. The college hopes to help mitigate that imbalance.