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Paratech's Tactical Response

The concept of completely interchangeable tool heads is right on target for a number of reasons. Regardless of our intel, we never seem to know what tools we will need—or we get a nasty surprise. For the last mock exercise I took part in, we needed bolt cutters. You guessed it: They were 100 yards away in the car. A pry-axe head tool doesn’t work when you really need a Kelly head, and a Halligan tool is not the best substitute for a true break-and-rake tool.
Even if we have some (or all) of the entry tools we need, most of them get dumped at the breach point. The ram and sledge always get dropped there, except by teams already bitten by the need to have them two flights of stairs later, i.e., lessons learned.

So, how do we make sure we have all the tools we need and have them all the time? The solution is a backpack kit. Backpack kits with entry tools are not a new concept. What is new are modular, interchangeable tool heads, a lot of them, and all the right ones. And that is what Paratech is working to offer with its Tactical Response Kit.

Tactical Response Kit

Of course, the Tactical Response Kit (TRK) comes with a Hooligan head. (Yes, that is how Paratech spells it.) This most famous of all police entry tools is completely traditional. The Paratech Hooligan Tool dates back to 1965. It is hard to improve on a classic Halligan tool, so Paratech didn’t even try. They just made their Hooligan head interchangeable.

The Sledge head weighs 4 pounds, a balance between effectiveness and portability. A 4-pound sledge inside the house is worth more than the door ram left behind by the breach point. The sledge is flat-radiused on one end and chisel-wedged on the other. Nice touch. The Bolt-Cutters are very traditional in design. They are an absolutely essential tactical tool for cutting chains and padlocks.

The standard axe head is Paratech’s famous Pry-Axe that dates back to 1962. This is Paratech’s first entry tool developed for the fire community. This particular head has a lower rasp edge, or teeth, designed to grab and catch on materials. A similar axe head, the optional Buster, has a slightly larger sharpened surface and no rasp or serrated lower edge. Both the Pry-Axe and the Buster come with a long, slightly curved pike, i.e., a Halligan-like pike.

As the TRK currently stands, it comes with two claws: the Standard Claw and the Cutting Claw. The Standard Claw has a slight, hammer-like radius for the most prying leverage. The parallel opening is designed to fit gas valve shutoffs. The Metal-Cutting Claw combines prying with sheetmetal cutting, can-opener style.

And what about the Shark Tool Shovel head? Well, it is a full-size shovel with extremely sharp and aggressive teeth. It is not merely a serrated shovel point, but one with long, deep teeth. Shark is the right name for this tool. And the Rake? It is a standard, rigid-tooth, heavy-duty lawn rake, 16 inches wide. (No one really uses a rake for the break and rake.)

The “D” Handle is definitely coming into its own in law enforcement. This handle shape makes the break and rake a whole lot easier, faster and more effective.

Lock-Bar Handles

All of the heads lock into universal and interchangeable lock-bars, each 15 inches long. The lock-bars themselves can be put together with a 3/4-inch diameter steel Lock-Bar Connector to form a 30-inch bar. Each lock-bar has a double locking tool receptacle at each end of the bar. Each handle has a fluted rubber covering. This is an excellent high-friction grip surface.

Almost all of the heads double lock into position. To remove a head, rotate the unlock lever, press the ball detent with your thumb, pull the head, rotate the head 180 degrees and pull it free from the tool. To insert a head, align the ball detent with the notch in the lock-bar housing, push the head in and rotate 180 degrees, push again and twist the locking level to lock.

Nylon Backpack

The nylon backpack is purpose-built to securely store and carry a wide variety of these entry tools. Everything is padded or double padded—the back plate, the straps and the waist strap. It even has an extra small-of-the-back pad. On the outside, the pack has pouches to hold two additional lock-bars. All of these heads, handles and bars are held firmly and securely in place with custom fabricated nylon hoops (pouches) and Velcro straps. In other words, each head has a specific place in the pack designed to receive and secure it.

Loaded with Paratech’s standard assortment of heads, handles and lock-bars, the Tactical Response Kit weighs 37 pounds. Obviously, changes in the tools selected will shift the weight up or down.

Break and Rake

So, what is missing from this basic police entry tool kit? A tool head for police-style break and rake. Paratech has just such a head under development. The business end of a break-and-rake tool is limited only by the designer’s imagination and experience in breaking and clearing glass. Many standard and Paratech-proprietary hook designs already exist: the Pike Hook, Multi-Hook, Master Hook, Sheetrock Hook, Boston Rake Hook and Trash Rake Hook. That said, the best break-and-rake head may turn out to be the company’s existing Sheetrock Hook with virtually no changes, other than the addition of an interchangeable connector.

We found the fire-oriented Sheetrock Hook to be excellent for this break-and-rake task. It has a sharp point for piercing and a flattened hook for that initial “press” to break the glass. The hook on one side and the three-toothed hoe on the other, plus a nice amount of weight in the head, make this tool very effective. Yes, we broke and cleared glass with it. Yes, we like it—a lot.

We would suggest perhaps an additional 6 inches of steel tube before it attaches to the lock-bar. This will prevent glass shards from cutting the textured rubber surface of the lock-bar and embedding glass in the double lock lever arc.

One other police entry tool is under development at Paratech—the basic ram. Many variations of the door ram already exist, and yet the ram is still open to improvement. The details are not finalized, but expect the Paratech ram to have the handles closer to the center of gravity than most rams. Also expect some form of knuckle protector (Thank you!) and a grip texture specifically developed for heavy use. Finally, expect the ram to be modular and scaleable, i.e., put two single rams together to make a two-man ram. The ram(s) will probably remain separate from the TRK.

Different Tool Needs

Every team has different entry challenges—urban versus rural, large team versus small team, etc. So it is impossible to come up with one kit to suit every need. Any one kit will be too much (too expensive, too heavy) for some or too little for others. While Paratech has a standard kit, it is willing to work with agencies to customize the kit.

So, the entry tool needs of every agency are different. Cost always has a role. That said, what do we consider the minimum “must-haves” in such a kit? What are the “nice-to-haves” in a tactical entry kit? What should be strictly optional?

The must-haves are the Hooligan head, the Sledge head, the Bolt-Cutters, the Sheetrock Hook, the “D” Handle and four 15-inch lock-bars. Why do you need two extra lock-bars? After all, it only takes about 5 seconds to remove a head and 5 seconds to install a new one. The answer is that we need to be at the far room of a two-story house 10 seconds after building entry. We have no time to change heads once the entry starts. The first two lock-bars just aren’t enough, not if you want to fully employ different tools at the same time.

The break-and-rake head will certainly need two 15-inch lock-bars together, and probably three. Obviously, bolt cutters require two lock-bars, and may need four lock-bars for leverage. The Sledge and the Hooligan heads could be used with just one lock-bar, but the Hooligan especially is a candidate for additional length. Yes, these lock-bars are fairly quick to disconnect. However, for most entries, you just don’t have the time to disconnect and reconnect handles.

The nice-to-haves in the TRK are probably the Pry-Axe head and the Standard Claw. The Cutting Claw, the Shark Tooth Shovel, the Rake, the Buster head and the Kelly head should really be strictly optional for police tactical use.

All of these tools worked exactly as expected and performed the tasks exactly as designed. The steel tools are welded together with some of the most robust welds we have ever seen. Again, the important aspect of the Paratech Tactical Response Kit is not an inventive tool design. Instead, it is its innovative interchangeability and its portability. There should be one kit per SWAT team and, for the best response to active shooters, one kit per patrol car.

Published in Tactical Response, Nov/Dec 2010

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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