The Active Shooter

Are you ready to respond to an act of mass violence?

   As we were preparing to send the February issue of EMS World Magazine to press, news of a horrific mass shooting in Tucson, AZ, began to populate the airwaves. Six people were killed in the attack and 13 wounded. It was not the start to 2011 that this country had been hoping and praying for.

   The decision to run the profile of an active shooter tactical training exercise as the cover report of this issue had been made several weeks ago; the timing of that now seems eerily chilling.

   The Urban Shield Exercise, as described in the article by Jim Morrissey, brought together California EMTs and medics with 29 SWAT teams from around the world to participate in a mass SWAT training event.

   In this exercise, SWAT teams were required to think about treatment for shooting victims as soon as the gunman was neutralized, as opposed to after the entire scene was secured. One statistic shows the vast majority of active shooting incidents are over within eight minutes, says Jim Morrissey, a tactical paramedic with the San Francisco FBI SWAT team who served as the EMS advisor to the exercise, so reducing staging times could help improve outcomes for time-sensitive patients.

   Tactical EMS operations are also the focus of our daily tips on in February, which can be found on our homepage. Tips contributor Wren Nealy, who is director of special operations for Cypress Creek EMS in Houston, TX, says that in regard to the Tucson shooting, "there was a unique component in that there were several dignitaries as dead and wounded. Dignitaries and/or their staff should include local public safety agencies in the planning process for these types of events, including the preplanning of potential medical needs."

   We will also be posting archive materials on our website relating to mass violence response and gunshot wounds.

   For now our thoughts are with the victims of the Tucson shooting and their families, especially the parents of nine-year-old Christina Green, whose loss is unfathomable.