After attending multiple active shooter trainings across the country, I determined that Fire & EMS must be much more aggressive in mitigating active shooter incidents. No longer can we wait for law enforcement to “clear” the scene before entering. Approximately 50% of the victims of an active shooter situation die because they bleed to death. In many cases a simple tourniquet could have saved the life.
The concept that we have developed, is to train with local law enforcement. This allows all concerned parties to take a team approach to an active shooter. The first law enforcement officer (LEO) who arrives on scene, will push toward the shooter and actively engage in eliminating any further threat.
As the LEO engages the shooter, EMS units will enter behind them to start treating patients. It is important that the shooting victim receive emergency care as soon as possible. This is raw, tactical medicine. EMS units are trained to enter the hot zone, unarmed in full tactical gear. This is a high risk mission, but if done as they are trained, can save lives that would otherwise be lost.
As EMS come across a victim, they will provide such treatment as, seal chest wounds, control bleeding and provide an airway. Once treated the victim is left where they are found as EMS moves on to the next victim. If a patient is found to have non-survivable injuries they will be passed over to go to the next patient. However, if a police officer is injured at anytime our mission will change. The police officer will be treated and immediately removed to the triage area.
Each medic carries enough supplies to provide care for up to five patients. Equipment includes tourniquets, Israeli trauma dressings and chest seals. In addition the medic will wear a Level 3A bulletproof vest and helmet. A thigh pack and the vest that holds equipment, prevents the medic from needing to carry an equipment bag. This allows the care giver the ability to move faster and to be more stealth.
Once the shooter has been eliminated, treated victims will be removed to a triage area to further assess their treatment needs and evaluate the appropriate transport modality.
We have trained frequently with our local law enforcement and the system works. The LEO can quickly stop the shooter and victims get quick treatment. We can no longer stand idle outside while law enforcement clears the structure of any additional threats. Aggressive, well thought out plans need to be developed that encourages a team approach to the active shooter incident.
When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.