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CO Training Academy: Week 10 - Sept. 16-21

Recruit School 9 of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Academy spent week 10 with Conservation Officers Casey Pullum and Patrick Hartsig. Officers Pullum and Hartsig, who previously served as paramedics, spent the week sharing valuable field experience. Recruits received classroom instruction, followed by scenarios that they were required to pass. Recruits who fail first aid are removed from the academy.

“First aid is an important aspect of the job – COs need to have extensive first-aid knowledge,” said CO Pullum. “Conservation officers patrol areas that could take hours for an ambulance to arrive, and a CO may be the only resource a victim has. It’s up to the CO to stabilize the victim.”


Day one of first aid started with basic anatomy, including the skeletal and nervous systems, initial victim assessments and the airway system. Understanding how the human body works will increase recruits’ proficiency at identifying injuries once they are working in the field.

Recruits filled their first-aid bags with tourniquets, CPR bags, gauze, bandages, emergency blankets and an array of other first-aid items. These bags are among the most frequently used equipment and will stay with the recruits throughout their careers.

Monday afternoon recruits learned about and practiced CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators. All conservation officers carry AEDs in their patrol trucks. If a person is having a cardiac emergency, an AED increases the survival rate in comparison to using just CPR. The recruits practiced CPR alone, and then incorporated an AED. At the end of the day, recruits were put through a scenario in which they had to perform CPR and use an AED on a training dummy to demonstrate proficiency. 

recruits classroom first aid

Monday photo 1: Recruits receive and pack their medical bags, which they will carry with them for their entire CO career.

Monday photo 2: Conservation officer first-aid bags are stocked with tourniquets, CPR bags, gauze, bandages, emergency blankets and other first-aid items.

Monday photo 3: Recruits learn how to use automated external defibrillators – all conservation officers carry AEDs in their patrol trucks.


Tuesday started with learning how to provide care for bleeding wounds and different types of tissue injuries, such as lacerations, abrasions, penetrating wounds and eye injuries. Recruits practiced applying tourniquets, splints and bandages to different injuries on themselves before practicing on a partner. In addition, recruits learned about bloodborne pathogens and the importance of wearing gloves.

A portion of Tuesday was spent learning about environmental injuries, including heatstroke, heat exhaustion and hypothermia. Environmental injuries are important for officers to recognize because these are common medical emergencies people may experience while enjoying the outdoors. Knowing the signs also will help recruits recognize if they themselves begin to develop symptoms.

The afternoon scenario testing involved a subject who had been stabbed during a domestic violence situation. The recruits administered first aid to the victim while dealing with the roommate, who returned halfway through the scenario. 

Tuesday photo 1: Tourniquets are used to help slow the flow of blood in the event of an injury. Recruits practice self-application before practicing on each other.

Tuesday photo 2: Recruits work together to address a victim’s wounds during a domestic violence scenario.


Wednesday’s first-aid topics included field trauma. CO Hartsig covered strokes, diabetic emergencies, seizures, poisoning and childbirth. The recruits also put together their “rat packs” – smaller first-aid packs that officers carry in their patrol packs.

CO Pullum provided greater detail about trauma injuries, particularly bullet wounds. Officer-involved shootings occur daily in the United States, whether during a routine patrol or on arrival to an active-shooter scene. Conservation officers are trained first responders; once a scene has been secured, it is essential that they can provide treatment to victims, fellow officers or themselves.


For Thursday morning’s physical training, recruits were greeted by a special guest. Kathryn Robuck, owner of Lake Orion Fit Body Boot Camp, volunteered her time to put recruits through her unique training regimen. Robuck’s training promoted hard work and teamwork among the recruits. 

Thursday photo 1: Recruits completed a unique training regimen Thursday morning, developed by Kathryn Robuck, owner of Lake Orion Fit Body Boot Camp. 

Thursday photo 2: Forming a circle while holding planks, recruits work on strength and teamwork. 

Thursday photo 3: Recruits work out with Kathryn Robuck, owner of Lake Orion Fit Body Boot Camp.

At 0800 hours the recruits were in the classroom reviewing first aid, preparing for their practical exams. Recruits completed three different scenarios. One included a subject who attempted to commit suicide – recruits had to administer first aid until an ambulance arrived. The second scenario included a subject whose baby had went unconscious from choking. The third scenario involved the recruit arriving to a scene, where the recruit, the recruit’s partner and an active shooter all had been wounded; the recruit had to secure the scene and attend everyone’s wounds. 

Thursday photo 4: Scenario testing Thursday included resuscitating a choking baby who had lost consciousness.

Scenario testing instills the important skills that recruits learn throughout the week, in a safe, learning environment. Once recruits are in the field, it’s up to them to utilize the skills they’ve learned during the academy to manage a situation. 

Thursday photo 5: Gunfire is exchanged between an active shooter and a recruit. The scenario resulted in all individuals requiring first aid.

Thursday photo 6: An active shooter is secured by a recruit during scenario testing.

Thursday photo 7: A recruit applies bullet wound first aid to his partner, who was wounded during an active-shooter scenario.


Recruits took their final written first-aid exam Friday before completing the final exam scenario – testing recruits’ CPR and AED skills. Although it was a tough week, recruits will carry these skills with them the rest of their careers. 

Friday photo: First-aid testing Friday included administering CPR with an AED.

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