‘Med Sleds’ increase Methuen police efficiency in rescues

METHUEN — The Police Department recently purchased and trained on a new type of medical rescue sled that will help first responders rescue injured people in emergency situations more quickly and efficiently.

Med Sled tactical rescue sleds are mainly designed for use in active shooter or mass casualty situations, to quickly evacuate the injured without risking more officers’ lives than necessary, police Chief Joseph Solomon said.

The sleds reduce the number of officers involved in a rescue by allowing an officer to simply drag the injured person on board the sled to safety, instead of several officers going into a dangerous situation to carry someone out.

But the sleds have uses outside of active shooter situations, ranging from rescuing someone from a collapsed building during a fire to aiding someone who is injured in an area of rugged terrain, like in the woods, where carrying someone would be difficult, Solomon said.

“I think the real important thing is it reduces risk and it saves lives,” the chief said.

Med Sleds were developed by ARC Products in response to a growing need for a cost effective and efficient transport system for evacuating non-ambulatory patients — those who cannot move themselves — in emergency situations. The sleds are designed to allow first responders to quickly secure patients and evacuate them in a way that’s safer and faster than other devices, according to a press release from the Police Department.

The department recently purchased 10 of the rescue sleds, which are six inches shorter in width than the standard Med Sled, allowing for easier deployment and rapid evacuation, the press release said. Each sled costs $245, the department said.

Mayor Stephen Zanni praised the Police Department for having the most up-to-date tools to allow officers to do their jobs “efficiently and effectively.”

“These new sleds will allow them to improve their ability to rescue patients that may be unable to walk or move,” Zanni said.

Solomon said his department came across the rescue sleds while doing research about how to rapidly transport injured people in a crisis situation. Police were able to test the rescue sleds at a conference and then purchased them, including one specifically for the marine unit that replaces an older metal rescue sled with flotation devices attached to it.

Officers trained on how to use the rescue sleds throughout March, learning to work as a team to load patients safely onto sleds and remove them from a situation while also protecting themselves.

“We want our officers to be prepared to respond to any kind of emergency, and this training provided them with the skills and resources they need to easily transport non-ambulatory victims,” Solomon said.

Depending on a person’s injury, the sled can be either thrown to a person so they can strap themselves into it, or officers can take the sled to a person, strap them in and pull them to safety. The sled’s design allows injured people to use their hands during a rescue, if needed.

Using a sled also reduces the number of officers that need to be involved in a rescue. For instance, without the sled, five officers could be needed to rescue someone in an emergency situation — four officers to carry the injured person and a fifth to cover them for protection. Since fewer officers are needed to work the sled, using that equipment could reduce the number of officers needed in that situation to only two or three, Solomon said.

“It’s reducing the amount of officers who have to be exposed if you have to go get (a person) because they’re injured so badly,” he said, adding something that is key in dangerous situations like those involving an active shooter.

During the rescue sled training, officers also reviewed tourniquets and QuikClot, a substance that helps clot arterial bleeds in areas of the body a tourniquet cannot be used, the chief said.

The rescue sleds will be placed in all primary patrol SUVs and will be available to all patrol officers on the street in the event of a mass casualty situation.

“While we hope we won’t have to use these new sleds very often, our officers will be equipped to save more lives with this new training,” Solomon said.

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