RIALTO (KCAL9) — An emergency room physician trades scalpels and syringes for guns and gear as a volunteer member of the SWAT team in San Bernardino County.
Dr. Michael Neeki, who regularly works in the trauma center at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Rialto, pulls double duty as a tactical medic for the Inland Valley SWAT team.
The doctor is side-by-side with SWAT members from Fontana, Colton, and Rialto when they enter life and death situations, and he's there to stitch them up when they take a bullet.
Neeki said it's crucial to know how to treat a wide range of gunshot wounds because different bullets produce different injuries.
"As we move into high caliber ammo, the wounds are worse," he said.
Lt. Obie Rodriguez said Neeki also shares his medical expertise with the team.
"One of his early focuses was to try to put together individual trauma kits for each officer and teach us on how to do some simpler things in those first crucial seconds," Rodriguez said.
Neeki is able to break away from his hospital duties for SWAT assignments because his colleagues agreed to cover him during the calls.
"It's outreach to the community, it's being there for our brothers in law enforcement and it's being there for the public," his boss told KCAL9's Jeff Nguyen.
Neeki, a former Iranian prisoner and Iran-Iraq war veteran, fled Iran for Sweden before coming to the United States to become a doctor.
Now an American citizen, he views the U.S. as his home.
"Any home, as soon as you get comfortable, you basically have to pay back to society," Neeki said.
Neeki is currently working with the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to create a training program that would recruit other physicians to become tactical medics for SWAT.
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