LBPD detective uses tactics learned in EMT training to save his father’s life

On Thursday, May 19, at approximately 7pm, Long Beach Police Detective Rob Owens, a member of the Department’s Special Weapons And Tactics team (SWAT) and certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), put his training to use during his off-duty hours and saved the life of a family member.
 Owens and his family were having dinner out with his father, who was visiting from out of state, when his father suddenly began to choke and gasp for air several times. When asked if he could breathe, he shook his head to indicate he could not, and Owens swiftly executed the Heimlich Maneuver, one of the many lifesaving tactics he learned through his six years of EMT experience.
The maneuver consists of a series of firm compressions under the diaphragm of a person with an obstructed airway. This forces the foreign object out of the airway, allowing the person to breathe again. On the first compression, the food that was causing Owens’s father to choke was dislodged, and he was able to catch his breath and enjoy the rest of the evening with his family. 
Owens has worked the last 14 years with the LBPD, and his current full-time assignment is as detective with the LBPD Gang Enforcement Section. He became a SWAT officer in 2002 and was certified as one of the team’s EMTs in 2005. 
SWAT EMTs are trained at the Long Beach Fire Department Academy along with firefighter recruits during the first month of studies, which focuses on basic life support. Like firefighters, SWAT EMTs are certified by the County of Los Angeles and must meet a national standard, which requires continued education for their training. In addition, they receive advanced training from paramedics.
The SWAT team is deployed during critical incidents in which the suspect(s) is possibly armed and has a tactical advantage. These incidents include barricaded suspects, high-risk search warrants, sniper incidents, and hostage situations.
SWAT EMTs provide immediate medical assistance not only to police personnel but also to victims or suspects who may be injured during the incident. The EMTs provide triage and sometimes life-saving measures until the scene is safe for the fire paramedics to enter and are an integral and very valuable part of the department and the community.

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