Departments must train citizens to be First Responders during active shootings
The first individuals to a scene will always be bystanders who are in close proximity to the event
By Justin Baumgartner, Faculty Member, American Military University
Fourteen people are dead and 17 more are reportedly wounded in San Bernardino, California after the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut. The most recent FBI Active Shooter Survey reports that such active shooter events are on the rise. To help prepare a community for an active shooter event, public safety agencies must first change the definition of who is considered a first responder.
Traditional first responders include law enforcement, the fire service, and emergency medical personnel. However, mass shootings start and end very quickly; these first responders often cannot get to a scene in time. Sixty-three percent of active shooter events are concluded by the 15-minute mark, either by police action or suspect suicide. But on a national average, it takes approximately 7 to 15 minutes for first responders to reach the scene and often longer for them to safely enter and start treating patients. Patients who experience massive trauma don’t have that much time and can often bleed to death in as little as three minutes.
The first individuals to a scene will always be bystanders who are in close proximity to the event. With this in mind, public safety departments must start training citizens how to “be your own first responder.”