In 1998, six Firefighter/Paramedics from the Odessa Fire Department have been selected to work with the Odessa Police Department's Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) Team. The first six firefighter/Paramedics to join the SWAT Team are John Alvarez, Jim Ballard, Ubaldo Estrada, Buddy Pearce, Martin Ramos and Mark Torres.
The Paramedics went through the Department of Defense's Counter Narcotics Tactical Operations Medical Support training, where they were taught to work within a tactical system. After 56 hours of exhaustive training in San Antonio during October 1998 the OFD Paramedics began training with OPD's tactical team in January 1999.
Odessa Police Chief James Jenkins said the practice of deploying emergency medical personnel with a tactical team originated in Florida and is spreading across the nation. The Tactical Medics wear the same body armor as the Police members. Jenkins said Tactical Medics would be able to treat not only wounded officers but any person or bystander who happens to get hurt during a SWAT operation. "My bottom line is instead of having an ambulance a block or so away, now medical attention is immediate", Jenkins said. "Eliminating that time factor is of the greatest importance to us".