Faroukh Mehkri, OMS IV, has worn two very different uniforms for the last four years.
One is the white medical coat of a medical student at the University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNTHSC/TCOM) in Fort Worth. The other is the crisp navy-blue uniform of an officer in the Dallas Police Department.
“Law enforcement and medicine are two things I’m passionate about,” Mehkri said. “It’s the perfect combination of what I want to do with my life.”
Following his dreams hasn’t always been easy. A typical day in medical school starts with reviewing notes for tests and quizzes. Then it’s off to UNTHSC/TCOM for class, lab work or perhaps a two-and-half-hour exam in renal pathology.
He grabs a quick lunch and makes the 35-mile drive to a southeast Dallas police substation. He changes into his patrol uniform and, if time permits, squeezes in a few minutes of studying before his patrol detail.
Mehkri and his partner navigate a Dallas police cruiser through neighborhoods plagued by poverty and crime.
Together, the officers have dodged gunfire, chased criminals into dark alleys, kicked in doors and built relationships with residents tired of crime and hopelessness.
“Some days you find yourself in pretty intense situations,” Mehkri said. “But you also meet people — families — living in the most difficult circumstances, and you can empathize with them.”
Mehkri is an excellent officer, said Senior Cpl. J. Shipp, who trained Mehkri on patrol in 2013. But fellow officers also like having him around during medical emergencies on the job.
Mehkri has used his medical training to treat officers injured in car crashes or in scuffles with suspects who resist arrest. He quickly recognizes overdose cases.
Once at a rural methamphetamine lab, Mehkri stopped officers from opening bags of a substance that he recognized as a poisonous organophosphate waste product of an ingredient often used in the meth cooking process. If officers had inhaled it, they could have suffered blurred vision, nausea and vomiting.
Unlike other officers, Mehkri carries three tourniquets on his utility belt.
“Most officers are trained to do basic CPR and put pressure on wounds and that’s about it,” Shipp said. “So when a medical issue arises, it is awfully nice to have Faroukh with you.”
Passion for service
Inspired to become an EMT after seeing a fellow student suffer a seizure, Mehkri completed the required 750 hours of Advanced EMT training and spent most of his college years responding to campus 911 calls. He also rode with Houston ambulance crews and worked in the emergency room at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston.
After Mehkri was accepted into medical school at UNTHSC/TCOM, he thought about several older EMTs he had met who also were sworn Harris County law enforcement officers. He admired their dual service. So he called the UNTHSC/TCOM admissions office and asked if he could delay starting medical school for one year while he entered the police academy.
“Go for it” was the answer.
A SWAT doc
Mehkri also works closely with Dallas Police Deputy Medical Director Lt. Alex Eastman, MD, who also is the chief trauma surgeon at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Lt. Eastman is known as a “SWAT Doc,” a member of Dallas SWAT who provides medical care for the specialized team of officers often in harm’s way.
Mehkri has joined Lt. Eastman at special events such as the annual Oklahoma-Texas college football game and President Donald Trump’s visit to Dallas last year. He also spent a month with Lt. Eastman at the Parkland Trauma Service.
“There was a weekend we worked 40 out of 48 hours between the two jobs, but it was worth it,” Mehkri said. “It is an incredible experience walking the line between two high-speed professions that care for people in their worst hours.”