Target Audience

A mass shooting requires cooperative response


"What a beautiful spring evening!"

The Attack One crew is on the front ramp at the station on a Friday evening that’s much nicer than typical for spring. The conversation is casual until they hear a gunshot in the distance, and then another, and then a series of shots from a semiautomatic weapon. The sounds come from 6–8 blocks away, and they can’t help but move toward the Attack One vehicle, move it to the front ramp and close up the station in preparation to leave. Then even more shots ring out, followed by the sirens of several police cruisers, and the Attack One crew knows they will be needed shortly. As they progress slowly in the direction of the sounds, the dispatcher tones out a report of a “child shot.”

“Further information for responding crews, scene not safe, further shots still being fired. Caller is unclear about age and condition of child.”

This type of dispatch creates a great deal of tension for the crew. The address of the victim is very close to their location, and about half a block from a major street where a number of bars are present and sometimes filled with rowdy crowds on Friday evenings. The Attack One crew leader is considering a safe place to stage until they can be cleared by law enforcement to enter the area. Police sirens now seem to be coming from all directions, and the occasional sounds of gunshots still pierce the evening air.

They decide to place the vehicle on the major street, away from the bars and about two blocks from the caller’s address. They move in that direction until the radio crackles with further information from the dispatcher. There are now reports of several more victims, including a police officer. Their locations are on a variety of streets in the area, and one victim is in one of the bars.

The Attack One crew leader notifies the dispatcher of arrival in the staging area and calls the battalion chief just assigned to the incident. “Chief,” the medic tells the battalion chief and dispatcher, “we are closer to the address for the child who’s injured, and farthest from the site of the police officer. We are staged, so we will take the opportunity to notify the trauma center. Since that hospital is very close to this area, we will ask them to prepare security and expect multiple victims.”

The battalion chief then addresses the other crews moving toward the scene, making sure all units stage in areas away from the police activity and preparing the crews that would treat the injured officer. He tells all units he will be in direct communication with the police officer in charge, that only he will release the fire-EMS units into secured scenes, and that all units will report to Attack One as transportation director to coordinate victim removals.

The dispatcher updates all crews with information the communications center has received from callers. There are at least five victims plus the police officer, and in locations 4–6 blocks apart. There must have been multiple shooters, but as yet there are no descriptions of cars or individuals that may be responsible.

The battalion chief comes on to the dispatch channel: “All units may move into the dispatched locations. Police units have secured all areas. Be aware that no suspects have been apprehended, so stay alert for further information. Attack One crew leader will designate all transport destinations.”

Attack One proceeds to the site of the injured child, a home in a residential area, where the crew finds the parents, who tell them the child is 9 and was “shot in the upper leg.” They report the child was on the main street on a bicycle when he heard loud noises and felt something enter his leg. The parents heard the gunshots, ran toward the street and found their child. Since the shots kept coming, they carried the child back to the house and hid in case the shooters came down the street.

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