Physician enjoys role as ‘SWAT doc’

By Camille Hughes Guard Staff Writer

Holding a police radio in a hand that’s more accustomed to the cool metal of a stethoscope, local physician Doug Bernard has officially become a “SWAT doc.�

While a career in medicine might be enough to keep most people busy, Bernard is definitely not “most� people. The 43-year old family practice physician also plays guitar and sings in the band Doghouse, and it was that gig that first introduced him to the Independence County Sheriff’s Department Special Weapons and Tactics team.

“Doghouse was playing at a local bikers’ fundraiser to help raise money for bullet proof vests for the SWAT team,� Bernard said. “The community stood behind us and we were able to raise almost $25,000 for vests for these guys.

“I just have so much respect for the officers,� he continued. “I felt it was a good organization to be a part of.�

According to Bernard, the team “took him in� the very first day and it was a real learning experience.

“What surprised me the most is the amount of equipment they carry,� he said. “You have to be in really good shape!�

“Members carry an average of 60 pounds of material,� said David Payne, SWAT team member and first aid trainer. “The medics carry an additional 35 pounds of equipment.�

Payne, who is also an Emergency Medical Technician, said that tactical medics carry enough equipment to be able to cover any situation that might arise.

“We want to keep the person alive until the situation is safe and we can get them out of there,� Payne said. “So we carry everything from Band-Aids to cardiac meds and blow-out kits.�

According to Payne, the addition of tactical medics has made a huge difference in the number of casualties during an operation.

Tactical Emergency Medical Services is defined by the International School of Tactical Medicine as the delivery of emergency medical services at military and law enforcement special operations.

“During World War I, 70 percent of traumatic injuries resulted in casualties,� Payne said. “Now in Iraq, that number is down to seven percent. We are able to get to the injured quickly and give them immediate care.

“We are really fortunate to have Dr. Bernard as a member of our team,� he continued. “This way we have his medical expertise right on hand. We train a lot and we train hard for all situations,� he added. “I just hope we never have to see how good we really are.�

According to Bernard, physicians and law enforcement have the same goal — to serve the public and keep everyone safe, “The first priority to all of us is to preserve life,� he said.

But it’s not all about training and life and death situations. Bernard said that he also enjoys the community events the SWAT team is involved with.

“Last year the team met with 4-H members and taught them about land navigation and how to use a compass,� he said. “They went to the local competition after that and got first place.�

Bernard said that he likes the challenge, the teamwork and the camaraderie of being a member of the SWAT team.

“We train hard so that each member is proficient and feels comfortable with the other members of the team,� he said. “We know that everyone is going to be there doing the right thing at the right time.

“I didn’t fully understand the meaning of teamwork until I met these guys,� he continued. “I would go into battle with any of them.�
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