Firearms Training: Film Three
21 June 2012
EXTREME pressure decision making comes under scrutiny as firearms students face quick-fire scenarios against everything from friendly drunks to axe men in the latest film going behind the scenes at the force's firearms training school.
The video, episode three in a four-part series, also shows candidates in an Armed Response Vehicle (ARV) navigating Birmingham streets on the trail of a getaway car, plus Fast Aid training – an advanced form of first aid for serious injuries.
A disused Birmingham tower block is the location for isolation exercises which test each candidate's response to scenarios posing dangers across the threat spectrum.
Proportionality is paramount as examiners look for the ability to quickly gauge a situation and handle it using the appropriate level of force.
West Midlands Police's chief firearms instructor, Inspector Simon Pemberton, said: "Each student is put in the corner of a room, given a quick tap on the shoulder and told to 'deal with what you see'.
"What's facing them may simply be someone who's drunk too much and being over-friendly, someone being verbally or physically aggressive, or an offender who is threatening them with a weapon.
"These are quick-fire tests, some lasting just a few seconds, so each student has to make a swift decision on how best to resolve the situation.
"They have a taser and casco (baton) at their side in addition to a firearm and they could be the best option – but often just effective communication is the best way to bring an incident to a safe conclusion.
"The film also shows candidates on the ARVs in a scenario in which they must locate a vehicle suspected to be involved in an armed robbery. This tests their ability to map read, rapidly assimilate information from numerous sources, weigh-up tactical options and formulate arrest plans on the move. They can be stressful sessions."
All firearms officers must be trained to a national minimum standard of Fast Aid.
Also known as D13, Fast Aid is a medical skill to help anyone injured before they're able to receive hospital or paramedic treatment – and that can be someone who's suffered a 'penetrative' injury such as a stab or gun-shot wound.
During the course firearms students – equipped with specialist equipment such as tourniquets, haemostatic bandaging, chest seals and oxygen therapy – are exposed to scenarios including to multi-casualty terrorist incidents, explosions and 'active shooter' incidents.
West Midlands Police lead Fast Aid trainer, PC Tony Howells, said: "We are first responders to all firearm incidents where the public, colleagues or the offenders themselves may be suffering from trauma-related injuries.
"Due to the nature of such incidents other services, such as the ambulance, may not be able to treat casualties immediately – we have a duty of care towards these people and to administer potentially life-saving care.
"There are numerous examples where our firearms officers have been in situations where their D13 skills have been used to save lives.
"A gang-related incident in Aston recently resulted in a man suffering severe arm and leg injuries and a near amputation – but the Fast Aid treatment administered by our officers stemmed the blood loss and saved the man's life and limbs.
"The officers involved have received Chief Ambulance Officers Commendations for their actions and are awaiting a Royal Humane Society Award."
West Midlands Police is one of the leading UK forces for Fast Aid training and have been working closely with the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh.
Link to the latest video: http://youtu.be/SnVstst6fnY
Link to 2nd video: http://youtu.be/cQZQ7RPQNeM
Link to 1st video: http://youtu.be/v0TXXnEpWo8