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Police Officer Response to the Injured Officer: A Survey-Based Analysis of Medical Care Decisions

  • Matthew D. Sztajnkrycer (a1), David W. Callaway (a2) and Amado Alejandro Baez (a3)



No widely accepted, specialized medical training exists for police officers confronted with medical emergencies while under conditions of active threat. The purpose of this study was to assess medical decisionmaking capabilities of law enforcement personnel under these circumstances.


Web-based surveys were administered to all sworn officers within the county jurisdiction.Thirty-eight key actions were predetermined for nine injured officer scenarios, with each correct action worth one point.Descriptive statistics and t-tests were used to analyze results.


Ninety-seven officers (65.1% response rate) responded to the survey. The majority of officers (68.0%) were trained to the first-responder level. Overall mean score for the scenarios was 15.5 ±3.6 (range 7–25). A higher level of medical training (EMT-B/P versus first responder) was associated with a higher mean score (16.6 ±3.4, p = 0.05 vs. 15.0 ±3.6, p = 0.05).Tactical unit assignment was associated with a lower score compared with nonassigned officers (13.5 ±2.9 vs. 16.0 ±3.6, p = 0.0085).No difference was noted based upon previous military experience. Ninety-two percent of respondents expressed interest in a law enforcement-oriented advanced first-aid course.


Tactical medical decision-making capability, as assessed through the nine scenarios, was sub-optimal. In this post 9/11 era, development of law enforcement-specific medical training appears appropriate.


Corresponding author

Matthew Sztajnkrycer, MD, PhD Department of Emergency Medicine GEGR-G410Mayo Clinic200 First Street SWRochester MN 55901USA E-mail:


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