Rapid Response: EMS educators and providers must be ready for mass shootings

The mass murder of college students strikes painfully close to home for me and we must not accept this as normal


As an EMS educator at a community college, I feel the emotional pain and anger that surrounds these incidents. It strikes close to home and I am frustrated that these events happen, and with alarming frequency.

My greater angst is the apparent laissez faire attitude toward this development of sudden violence in society. It seems like we are "getting used to" the idea that this is acceptable behavior, part of American life.

This cannot happen.

Of course, I don’t have a solution. Hearing arguments on both sides of the gun control and gun ownership debate leaves me confused and fumbling for a solution that would work effectively.

In the absence of any rational decision, all I can do is look for the lessons being learned every time these events occur.

1. If you don’t think what happened in Oregon can happen in your community, get over it. It could happen everywhere.

2. Front-line EMS providers must be prepared to enter warm zones with the initial law enforcement entry teams. To wait for tactical medics is to be too late to save lives. 

3. In these chaotic, dangerous scenes, being heroic is being reckless. Training is essential to instill discipline that executes successful tactics. 

4) We also need to know how to protect ourselves when we are not on duty. “RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.” is the current theory for self-survival: RUN away as soon as you realize your life is at risk. If you can’t run, HIDE or barricade yourself from the shooter. And ultimately, if you are confronted by the shooter, FIGHT — do anything you can to disable the assailant.

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