The Tactical EMS School 35 Years of Service

By Todd Burke, Jim Weiss, and Mickey Davis

In September 2022, the Tactical Emergency Medical Services (EMS) School celebrated 35 years of continuous service of its annual training program at Camp Ripley, Minnesota.

Begun in 1987 as a three-day Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS) course, the program has grown into its current form as a 77-hour, six-day opportunity for basic and advanced first responders to learn how to function as the medical component for police and civilian tactical teams, search and rescue groups, life safety ministries, and any organized response needing a trained and educated tactical medical component current with today’s Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TC³) guidelines . This accredited training program is driven, not by traditional Emergency Medical Services (EMS) teachings, but by the specific TC³ doctrine that has been researched and developed by a team originally led by a Navy SEAL and surgeon.


In 1996, Captain Frank Butler, MD (surgeon and US Navy SEAL- Retired), along with Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) John Hagmann and Ensign E. George Butler authored a 15-page paper entitled “Tactical Combat Casualty Care in Special Operations.” This paper reported the findings of a one-year study by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) as to how combat casualties were treated according to civilian Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) principles. This approach was appropriate in the civilian arena, but found to be lacking and unproven ...