EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) — First responders always say time is never on their side when answering hazardous situations. That’s why the Union County Sheriff’s Department has added a new unit to its SWAT team to better protect deputies and you at home.
The next time the SWAT team is called to an incident, the sheriff’s department newest tactical medical unit will also join their operations.
“To me that’s a huge benefit to be able to have their knowledge and training to be able to help people,” SWAT Team Leader, Sergeant Jim Sanders said.
This unit consist of three medical professionals: John Burdue, Cody Burdue and Trey Johnson. Each have extensive experience as ambulance technicians and are members of the search and rescue team.
With this new role, they’re also trained to handle dangerous and high-risk type of operations. This new unit will be in the “hot zones” with the SWAT deputies. They’re trained and qualified to operate weapons.
Sergeant Sanders believes this will prove to be helpful. As there will be additional people responding to these situations and when there are emergency medical needs with deputies, civilians or suspects, the medics unit can immediately turn their attention to help with care.
In the past, an ambulance service would not be on site during an active scene. Instead, they would be miles away until the situation is deemed clear.
“It had to be cleared before medical could come in and by that time they learned by many examples of these type of events that that’s too late,” Purdue said. “We have developed a way where medics can initiate life-saving care to do the most good.”
This has taken years to actually get going but the Union County Sheriff’s Office is glad it was able to come together. The medics unit trains with the SWAT team each month and are prepared to suit up for dual roles when necessary.
“We’re constantly going to seminars conferences and specific training within ourselves in trying to keep up with what’s current and what works,” Purdue said.
Some of the equipment the medics unit has has been provided by the community in some way, whether through financial or equipment donations.
Sergeant Sanders estimates gear for each person ranges between $2,000- $3,000. He’s thankful for the support so far because it also helps to add more SWAT team members. He hopes the community will continue with the support so they can continue to provide safety and security for all.
“Things have come together but we still need help if we can,” Sergeant Sanders said.
The Union County Sheriff’s Department will host its 9th Annual Bass Tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the SWAT team at Felsenthal. They rely heavily on this tournament for the SWAT team to have the funding they need.
Registration will start at 4 a.m. Plate lunches will be for sale from Flaming Pig Barbecue. If you would like to make a donation to the SWAT team you can send those directly to sheriff’s department at 250 American Road and contact Sergeant Sanders.