What will the cops do?

When an attack does occur, the actions we take can affect how those who are called on to respond will act. Our actions can put us at risk for being mistakenly shot, or our actions can help public safety to quickly identify and take down those who mean us harm.

It reminds me of the joke about a church gossip who kept sticking her nose in everyone’s private life. Church members were not normally happy with these gossip activities, but they feared her enough to not confront her. One Sunday, she made a serious mistake when she accused a new member, named George, of being an alcoholic. She boldly told everyone that she saw his pickup truck parked in front of the town’s only bar the previous afternoon. George was a man of few words, and when he was confronted by the church gossip, from a distance, he stared at her for a  brief moment, then just walked away. He didn’t explain, defend, or deny the allegations; he said nothing. Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of the gossips house, and left it there all night! The implication he made sent a message.

Whenever an active shooting occurs, law enforcement will be called upon to respond. Much like the way George dealt with the church gossip, we can send a message to public safety, simply by the actions we take. When they arrive, there are things you can do to help protect yourself, and to help police to do their job more quickly and effectively.

In years past, law enforcement would wait for additional officers and equipment to arrive before making entry into the building. All of this changed after the 1999 Columbine Colorado High School shooting. Law enforcement learned important lessons from Columbine. One of those lessons was the longer an active shooter is allowed to go (without be confronted by law enforcement), the more damage they will do.

In most instances, law enforcement will engage the shooter as soon as possible, even if only one officer arrives on scene.  By taking the proper actions, you not only reduce your chances of being mistaken for the shooter, but you also assist the police by making it less confusing and threatening for them.

The police have predetermined procedures in place to help protect you, and then separate actions to protect the police, in an active shooting situation. It is important to note that the police have a primary objective; stop the killing. This means they will usually bypass the injured and dead, and only focus on the shooter. In most instances, this means that help for the victims of the shooting will not come until the shooter is under arrest or neutralized.

On the other hand, most people believe that fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will come to help victims while the incident is still active. This couldn’t be further from the truth. National, state, and local protocols prevent fire and EMS from going to a scene until the scene is safe. In fact, in order to pass their test as EMS providers, they literally have to ask the question “Is the scene safe” to their evaluator.

While fire and EMS may be called at the same time as law enforcement is, they will stage themselves out of harm’s way until law enforcement tells them that there is no danger to the firefighters and EMS workers. They may stage at an area a mile away, or depending on the circumstances, they may stage even further away than a mile. This revelation makes your cooperation with law enforcement even more important. The longer it takes them to get the incident under control, the longer it will take for medical help to arrive on scene.

Over the next few days, I will be discussing ways to help law enforcement, and the “Do’s and Don’ts” of what to do when they arrive on scene. Until tomorrow, … Mark

Medical supplies needed

When an active shooter comes into your church, most people think that the police, fire department, and ambulances will arrive in just a few seconds. That assumption would, in most instances, be wrong. Depending on which statistics you read, the arrival of police will take 8-10 minutes. Fire and ambulances will not arrive until the police have secured the church. Securing the church means removing, or neutralizing, the threat.

From the first day of training, firefighters and EMT’s are taught that the should not enter a situation (such as an active shooter) until the scene is safe. In their practical test for their license, they will fail to become an EMT if they do not ask “Is the scene is safe?”. While I hate to burst peoples bubble when it comes to response times, this means that the church will likely be on their own for 10-20 minutes. Of course, some of this will depend on how rural or urban the geographical area is, whether they rely on local law enforcement (city police) or county law enforcement, and how much funding is provided to law enforcement in that area. More funding typically means more officers are available to respond, while smaller budgets mean fewer officers are available to respond.

In order to be better prepared, the church should implement a medical response team, and keep supplies on hand. You could purchase one or more ready-made trauma bags (such as this) for your medical response team, or you could build your own. Most medically trained personnel should know what supplies are needed, however I have included this basic list to make it a little easier for you:

  • 10-12 pairs of Nitrile gloves
  • 1 pair of trauma shears
  • 1 pair of bandage scissors
  • 1 Stethoscope
  • 1 blood pressure cuff
  • 1 disposable penlight
  • 1 splinter forceps
  • 1 quick reading ear or forehead thermometer
  • 1-2 C-Collar, adjustable, adult size
  • 1-2 C-Collar, adjustable child size
  • 2-4 pair of safety goggles
  • 1-2 CPR  barrier devices
  • 1 Alcohol Hand Sanitizer
  • 60-80 Adhesive bandages
  • 10-15 butterfly bandages
  • 10 -15 2″x2″ gauze pads
  • 20-30 4″x4″ gauze pads
  • 5 -10 5 x 9 gauze dressings
  • 2 trauma dressings  (10″x30″)
  • 4-8 gauze rolls (3″ wide)
  • 4-6 triangular bandages
  • 2-4 elastic bandages (2″ wide)
  • 2-3 Mylar Survival Blanket
    1-4 rolls of 1″ wide plastic medical tape
  • 1-4 rolls of 2″ wide porous medical tape
  • 1-4 roll of 2″ wide cloth medical tape
  • 3-4 roll of self-adhesive Wrap (Coban)
  • 10-12 triple antibiotic ointments
  • 4-6 instant cold packs, large
  • 2 eyewash solutions, 4 oz.
  • 15 antiseptic wipes
  • 20 alcohol preps
  • 2 resealable plastic bags
  • 2-4 red bio-hazard bags
  • 2 Ink Pens
  • 2 permanent markers

Another item that you may want to consider in your house of worship is an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED).  Should someone have a heart attack, an AED combined with CPR may be the only hope of reviving someone before brain damage or permanent death happens. These can be a little pricey for smaller churches ($1,000-$2,500), but you have to ask yourself, what is a life worth? I am assuming that if you are in a church, you know where you are going when you die, but you don’t want to rush that process when you can provide a longer life. While the picture shows a Phillips brand, they are not the only brand available, so do some shopping before purchasing an AED. Some important considerations include battery life, maintenance requirements, and ease of use. You will also need to determine if you want to be prepared for an adult that may need this, or if you want to have the capability of helping a child as well.

Tomorrow, we will talk about other, (non-medical) supplies that you might want to have on hand. Until then, … Mark