Training is everything in high-risk entries where your survival depends on speed and shot placement.

The High Liability Instructors’ Conference, taught under the auspices of the Florida Public Safety Institute, is hosted by the splendid Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Training Center outside Tallahassee. The conference drew some 265 police instructors, plus tens more who taught them in the “train the trainers” format. Presentations ranged from emergency medical care for life-threatening trauma such as gunshot wounds, to emergency driving, shooting, hand-to-hand defensive tactics and suspect restraint techniques. I spent 14 hours teaching, and the rest soaking up all I could. Let’s depart from the usual case study mode that we generally use in this column, and this time around look at “lessons” instead of “cases.”

Speed Is Life
In a fast-breaking life or death situation, the sooner we react appropriately, the more likely we are to survive. It was a lesson taught amid screeching and smoking tires on the driving courses that week, as EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operator Course) instructors were certified and re-certified on such things as the PIT Maneuver to ram a dangerous driver’s vehicle off the roadway, and how to control a vehicle when it goes into a skid at speed. (In the time of ABS braking and other modern technologies, some of the things we were taught in the Old Days are no longer the right things to do.)

Speed of response can also be a lifesaver when gunfire erupts. Australian researcher Joel Suss came from Florida State University’s ACE lab (“ACE” stands for Applied Cognition and Expertise) to bring a scientific approach to some of the things we do in emergency response, including shooting. Suss’ definition of an “expert” is “someone who can reliably demonstrate superior performance,” and in the last analysis, that’s what we all want to be…and what all of us police instructors try like hell to make our students become.

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September 2010

Training is everything in high-risk entries where your survival depends on speed and shot…