A recent conference guide arrived in my email inbox.
7 of 11 EMS courses listed were on active shooter. That is not a Slushie joke.
As you know I have long believed that Law Enforcement Integration training should be standard for Fire and EMS. We train on Hazardous Materials Awareness, Swift Water, confined space and maybe a half dozen other specific courses, but are we maybe running too quickly into the warm zone of active shooting?
A commuter aircraft crashed near my home last week. A vice presidential candidate’s plane skidded off the runway, and yet when I mention these things to my EMS friends I hear “That’s just an airport thing, we don’t need that training.”
Let me get this straight…
We need training and gear for a situation that will be over before we arrive, but we ignore a situation that requires specific training because “it happens so rarely.”
I have noticed that an intervention’s usefulness has an inverse correlation compared to the rapidity with which EMS adopts it. For example: Cooling. When post arrest cooling AKA Therapeutic hypothermia hit the scene it was adopted almost overnight by EMS. Coolers were purchased, policies written and the most recently deceased were getting cold fluids and we were giving high fives. At the same time those who were advocating for cooling were also defending long spine boards as the standard of care. I know, stupid.
It took 2 full years of fighting to get long spine boards moved from “required” to “a tool.” The cold saline just showed up overnight.
Now what we’ve known from the start, that pre-hospital cooling has no benefit, has us no longer using the expensive coolers and nifty policies. We were so fast to jump on board we never thought to look at the data first.
I can’t help but see it happening again with vests and helmets for “active shooter” situations. Don’t get me wrong, TEMS has a place. Medics need to be a part of tactical teams because when SWAT deploys EMS has nothing to do but standby nearby and wait.
We were to fast to throw vests and helmets at anyone who wanted to get trained did we ever stop to see if putting those people in the warm zone would make a difference? San Bernadino? No. Orlando? No. LAX? No. So where are all the active shooter incidents where a Rescue Task Force has been deployed successfully? Where are all the post recus patients who got cooled walking out of the ED?
Or is it just a chance to finally get some new training, gear and something to do? Were we too quick to adopt this new tactic or will it prove beneficial? When a medic or firefighter gets shot in the warm zone will we be willing to re-examine this program or blame the provider for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?
I think you know as well as I do where the fault will be placed.
We seem to sprint towards the uncertain while ignoring the obvious. How much longer will we just let it happen?