Tactical Medicine is a branch of medicine that envelops the practice of emergency medicine in the context of law enforcement, military combat, and civilian casualty care, including mass casualty care from terrorism, military combat, and natural disasters. Tactical medicine involves keen knowledge and practice of basic and advanced emergency procedures and protocols using limited resources in high stress situations, along with knowledge of how a physician must function in all aspects to protect the people under his or her care, including platoons, squads, and security contractors. Tactical Medicine docs see trauma and life-threatening injury as their bread and butter, even more so that the typical EM physician. This means Tactical docs must keep a cool head when “assessing the scene” (to quote BLS) means being mindful of imminent threat, not running away from it! Tactical Medicine specializes in the treatment of ballistics and explosive wounds, burns, and bioterrorism, to name a few.
EM is one of the only licensed MD specialties that provides fellowship training in Tactical Medicine to physicians, not combat medics. The logic behind the appropriation of Tactical Medicine by EM is simple: the injuries seen in the field are grave emergencies, and require prompt emergent treatment to save life and limb.