Doctors in Bulletproof Vests

SWAT teams add doctors to save lives. At least one cop's already been saved.

ByABC News
February 18, 2009, 4:11 PM

Nov. 25, 2007 — -- Dr. Alex Eastman doesn't lack for excitement in his life. He is a surgeon at Parkland Memorial Hospital, the busiest trauma center in Dallas, meeting the ambulances that carry human bodies wrecked by car accidents, gunshots and the violence of a big city.

But that's his tame job. Half the week he exchanges his hospital scrubs for a bulletproof vest and heads out with the Dallas SWAT team.

There is a growing trend among the country's SWAT teams -- not just in Dallas -- to add doctors to provide immediate lifesaving treatment on the scene. Far from the controlled environment of hospitals, these doctors learn to work on trauma victims even as they take fire.

Having a doctor along can mean the difference between life and death when a cop is shot.

Police Lt. Carlton Marshall is living proof. Marshall was shot in the neck during a raid Oct. 17.

Within minutes of hearing "officer down!" Eastman and his partner, Dr. Jeff Metzger, went to work. Metzger held the officer's head while Eastmen performed an emergency tracheotomy, cutting a hole in the officer's neck to allow him to breathe.

Eastman and the other Dallas SWAT doctors aren't there to save the "good guys" only. In an earlier raid, Eastman saved the life of a drug suspect who shot himself in the head as the police moved in.