La. First Responders Conduct Active Shooter Drill
June 08—As active shooter incidents increase, local first responders are hoping for the best but are preparing for the worst.
EMS members from around the state gathered today at the Courtyard by Marriott in Houma and Houma Christian School to conduct training on how to respond to active shootings.
Sponsored by the Louisiana Association of Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technicians, the eight-hour course was designed to bring emergency medical professionals up to speed on the latest concepts of medical rescue response to active shooter incidents and how to integrate their operations with law enforcement.
For association President Steve Erwin, the training represents the sign of the times.
"This is important for all EMTs because this training is how they get their continuing education to become certified," Erwin said. "Specifically, the active shooter training is important because it's one of the things we're dealing with, and EMS is constantly changing. What we deal with changes, how we deal with it changes and that's what this is all about."
According to an FBI study, 2014 and 2015 each had 20 active shooter incidents, which was more than any two-year average in the past 16 years and about six times as many than in 2000 and 2001.
Those incidents resulted in 1,043 casualties with 486 killed and 557 wounded, not including the shooters themselves.
It is chilling statistics like those that convinced West Terrebonne Fire and Rescue Lt. Chris Vanderkamp to take part in the training session.
"Nowadays these active shootings are just so prevalent," Vanderkamp said. "They can happen anywhere. Look at all of the events we have in Houma. All the different activities we have going on bring more people together and increase the chances of some form of incident. Now at least we'll be prepared. It's better to be prepared in situations like those."
Little Caillou Fire Department Assistant Chief Terry Blanchard said working seamlessly with law enforcement is essential for EMS personnel during volatile active shooter settings.
"As far as EMTs, we have to work together with law enforcement so they can make the scene safe so we can follow in behind them to treat patients," Blanchard said. "Most of the patients in a shooting are bleeding to death because of the wounds they have. If we can stop the bleeding, then the chances of survival are a lot better. So it's all about going in, putting tourniquets on the patients and rapidly getting them out. Because of the danger of being fired upon, it's a coordination effort between law enforcement, EMS and fire departments."
Local Boy Scouts posed as shooting victims during the drills, which involved about 17 participants from EMS agencies all over the state.
Acadian Ambulance Operations Supervisor Joe Szush said the course was essential to keep up with the latest developments in EMS training.
"Procedures and protocols are constantly changing and are being updated with the newest best practices," Szush said. "So it's important to stay up to date. It's all teamwork between the fire department, law enforcement and EMS, so everybody needs to be on the same page. You can only get that way by training together."
The active shooter training was a part of the annual Louisiana Association of Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technicians Conference, which runs through Saturday in Houma.
--Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 857-2202 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@DanVCopp.
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