October 1, 2017 marked the deadliest mass shooting in recent US History. During a Country Music Festival in Las Vegas a gunman opened fire from a 32nd story window of a nearby hotel down to the concert off Route 91. By the time the shooting was over there were 59 dead and 527 injured.
I remember going through EMT school and learning about the golden hour, (the first hour after the occurrence of a traumatic injury, considered the most critical for successful emergency treatment). Over the years my experience and training has taught me that in all reality patient’s experiencing major trauma, especially that involving massive hemorrhage have only minutes to survive. A patient bleeding from a major artery can bleed out in 3 minutes. This doesn’t leave first responders much time to get the call, drive there, and stop the bleeding. As we all know at 3 minutes from the time of injury most callers are still on the phone with 911.
As the number of active shooter events continues to grow so does the way First Responders respond to these emergencies. In the past it used to be medical personnel had to wait until the scene was safe to help the injured. Police would secure the area, and notify SWAT, once the threat was eliminated police would do a systematic search ensuring all threats were neutralized. Then medical personnel would move in and start patient care. All the while potentially survivable injuries were now deaths. At the time this was considered best practice. Nowadays more and more agencies are training and responding to these events in a different manner. Patrol Officers are moving in and eliminating the threat. Medical Personnel are moving in with the second wave of officers and are no longer waiting until the scene is 100% safe. By doing this the opportunity to save more lives is created. But even then can we still save more, after all the ultimate goal is to prevent loss of life.
Las Vegas and other recent mass casualty incidents could have turned out much worse as far as total deaths had it not been for the “true” first responders, those people that were already there and decided to do whatever they can to help family, friends, and total strangers. Keep in mind that not everyone helping had medical training, yet they were able to make a difference. Mike Cronk, a retired teacher used his shirt to stop bleeding. Jonathan Smith a copy machine repairman was shot helping others. The list goes on.
Truth is most people already want to help other people in need, it’s human nature. We have seen this over and over again. Through all of these horrible events heroes have emerged, whether it was pulling someone to safety or applying a makeshift tourniquet. They were already there when the incident occurred and opted to stay and help. Now I am by no means saying lets teach everyone to stay and help but lets give the ones that opt to stay the tools to help. So how do we train civilians to save lives in the event of another mass shooting?
As first responder agencies, community education is our responsibility. It is up to us to give our communities the best information to make the best decision. Bleeding control classes need to be as readily available if not more available than CPR classes. These classes are not long, they run about 1-2 hours depending on how in depth you want to go. And they should not cost much if anything at all. The goal is to train as many people as possible to recognize life threatening hemorrhage and how to control it. I would suggest teaching how to make tourniquets out of everyday objects, and how to properly apply them.
I encourage every agency to go out and train your communities. If you aren’t sure on how to go about this just let me know I will help you develop your class free. Not only will this help build relationships in the community, but you never know who’s life may need saving in the future. Reach to those individuals in your schools, shopping centers, movie theaters, those individuals that organize large events such as concerts and fundraisers, staff at sporting events. Reach out to everyone you can and have them reach out to others as well.