Emergency Responders Train for Active Shooters

Tactical Combat Casualty Care transfers lessons learned from war to EMS


WILLOW GROVE, PA—A warm, sunny day in Abington Township is quickly interrupted when the call goes across the radio that there is an active shooter responsible for multiple injuries. Nowadays this scene could happen anywhere in the United States. Luckily, today it’s only a training exercise where local emergency responders and police are learning how to treat victims of acts of violence.

To better prepare for such emergency situations, Second Alarmers Rescue Squad of Willow Grove, PA, recently conducted a Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) class for law enforcement officers and emergency responders.

“Our primary objective is take lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring life saving education and technology to our streets,” paramedic Craig Hall, course coordinator, says. “The information in TCCC has already proven its value in saving lives overseas.”

Ten members of the Second Alarmers Rescue Squad and Abington Township Police Department trained on emergency care during the two-day seminar.

The training course focused on initial emergency medical care, including controlling bleeding, application of emergency trauma dressings, managing open chest wounds and tactical casualty evacuations.

“The simulated injuries added the realism necessary to make the training as real as possible,” says EMT Keith Jenkinson, a class participant. The course utilized moulage kits—life-like casualty simulation kits featuring three dimensional accessories and including such things as open wounds and fake blood. Techline Trauma of Willow Grove partnered with Second Alarmers to conduct the course. Techline currently manufactures realistic training injuries, which are used all over the world at military training facilities. Techline also donated the use of the Tactical Operation Manikin (TOM). TOM is a robotic medical manikin that talks, breathes and bleeds. The realistic training aids allowed students to practice invasive medical procedures in a realistic environment.

“The scenarios utilized reinforce that this type of incident can occur anywhere at any time,” Captain John Townsend, instructor for Second Alarmers, explains. “We find the training to be beneficial (for) our responders (who) may have to respond to these types of incidents.”

Prior to mobilization, military members are taught various techniques to treat and stabilize injuries related to combat. The TCCC class taught prior to deployments is an effort to increase survivability when a combat medic may not be readily available.

“We train using the same techniques, procedures and equipment as our armed forces,” says paramedic David York, a retired USMC major who teaches the class. “The high survival rates of casualties in combat are directly related to the information our troops learn in TCCC.”

“While we hope our local responders will never have to respond to an active shooter event, we are pleased to have an active part in preparing responders for the worst case scenario,” says Second Alarmers Chief Matthew McVoy.

For more information on Tactical Combat Casualty Care, or other course offerings from Second Alarmers, contact them at training@main.sars.org or call 215/659-1885.