Program trains Orange County officers to deal with shootings, trauma

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Orange County police officers are taught tactics to survive gunshot wounds in a federal training program. (KABC)

A classroom full of police officers from all over Orange County learned skills they hope will help them save lives in traumatic situations.

The officers took part in an all-day special class called "Tactical Emergency Casualty Care" or TECC.

Eyewitness News was the only TV station given an inside look at the program. The goal is to provide first responders with the tools to give themselves and others the best chance of surviving a serious injury.

"There's been between 13 and 15 cases since the inception of this class, four years ago, where officers have been recognized for saving lives," said Sgt. Michael Gonzalez from the Santa Ana police department.

Gonzalez is the lead instructor for the program which is based on life-saving skills used in the military.

Last week, officers responded to a car-to-car shooting in Santa Ana. A man was shot twice in the torso, severing an artery. Paramedics say officers, who took the class, used a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, ultimately saving his life.

The training is funded by a federal grant given to local law enforcement to participate in counter-terrorism training. The first responders spend half of the class watching videos and learning techniques inside a classroom. The other half, they spend running through practical skills from packing a wound to lifting an injured officer into a vehicle.

During one of the drills, a pair of officers walks into a container and are told an officer is down. It is loud, dark and hot. Officers must assess and treat an "injured" mannequin.

This scenario is meant to create a stressful situation, similar to what these officers may see in the field.

"Definitely heart rate's pumping, the sweat starts to go, your fine motor skills start to go, more difficult to deal with," said Officer Carlos Luevano, a Santa Ana patrol officer.

The class also heard from LAPD Officer Guillermo De La Riva. He was shot twice, once in the face, which critically injured him during a firefight. He says this type of training helped him to keep fighting and get to safety.

"I didn't have to go or freeze, or do something else - because of muscle memory, I was trained," said De La Riva.

The training ends with a full-speed, high-stress, multi-injury simulation making sure these officers are ready in the event of a real disaster.

"For me, this stuff is invaluable," said Luevano. "I know a lot of my fellow officers as well really appreciate the class, it's a huge benefit to us."
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