Emergency health program helps prepare locals for active-shooter situations

Media Credit: Courtesy of Geoffrey Shapiro

A program in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences is partnering with the Carroll County Emergency Services Association in northern Maryland to provide Federal Emergency Management Agency-sponsored training to locals. The program also hosted a similar training with the El Salvador National Police in San Salvador, pictured above.

Updated: Nov. 15, 2018 at 3:24 p.m.

The Emergency Medical Services Program is working to prepare the community for active-shooter situations.

A program in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences is partnering with the Carroll County Emergency Services Association in northern Maryland to provide Federal Emergency Management Agency-sponsored training to locals so they know how to respond to an active-assailant situation. The in-person training will inform civilians, law enforcement and medical responders how to safely respond if there is an active shooter, officials said.

Officials said the two upcoming sessions of Tactical Emergency Casualty Care – which will focus on how to provide emergency medical care until professional medical services arrive on scene – will take place on Nov. 16 to 18 and Dec. 7 to 9. The first session will be at the Carroll County Public Safety Training Center in Westminster, Md., and the second will be held at the Sykesville Freedom District volunteer fire company, also in Maryland.

Geoffrey Shapiro, the director of emergency medical services and operational medicine training, said the course is instructed by adjunct faculty who work full-time with military and public safety organizations. He said he will lead the administration of the training sessions.

“The overarching goal of this entire program is reduce the number of casualties associated with active violence incidents,” Shapiro said in an email.

More than 300 shootings have occurred in the United States so far this year, according to a report from the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit organization that provides data about gun violence in the United States.

Shapiro said each of the sessions will consist of five separate courses for people who would take on different potential roles during an active-assailant situation, like first-care providers and law enforcement. He said the free training for first-care providers is open to the public, and each course can accommodate up to 60 people.

Pre-registration is recommended, but some walk-ins will be accommodated, according to a Carroll County press release.

Shapiro said participants will learn how to avoid preventable causes of death before a person can receive care from medical professionals.

“In light of the shootings in Thousand Oaks and Pittsburgh in just the last couple of weeks, it is important for individuals to learn what to do if ever in one of these unfortunate active violence incidents,” he said.

Shapiro said the half-day course for first-care providers is intended for anyone who might be present at a scene before public safety officials arrive. The course focuses on how to assess a situation, find a safe location and provide information to authorities, he said.

He said the full-day course for law enforcement teaches the differences between an isolated incident and a high threat situation with a high number of casualties. Shapiro said participants also learn basic life-saving skills that may be used if an officer is injured during a situation.

For fire and emergency medical services professionals, a full-day course teaches the difference between life-saving and secondary interventions – whether care should be immediate or completed in a clinical facility – and when to use each, he said. A half-day course instructs “first receivers,” like hospital nurses and doctors, on how to prepare themselves and react to casualties from an active shooter and how to provide secondary care.

“First receivers will understand how and why first responders assist wounded and in what condition casualties will be in when they arrive at the hospital or trauma center,” he said.

Another half-day course for the “Rescue Task Force” teaches the options available for providing care and assisting in situations that require an evacuation. The course will include discussions and practice sessions related to ongoing risks during the situation, he said.

He said the two-hour “Incident Command” course teaches how to implement strategies for the Rescue Task Force and successfully manage the situation.

Tim Bangerd, the vice president of Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association, said the challenge in conducting active-assailant training is that no one can completely prepare for every aspect of an active-shooter situation. He said the training prepare participants to the greatest extent possible so people will not feel like they are facing the situation for the first time.

“We have to be ready at a moment’s notice to be able to mitigate and eliminate these types of situations,” Bangerd said.

Donald Fair, the president of the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association, said the county has an interest in preparing people for active-shooter situations because of its close proximity to large cities, like Baltimore and D.C., where crime rates are higher than in suburban and rural areas.

Fair said situations of gun violence are not going away, but bringing people from different agencies and with different experiences together is an effective method to prepare.

“Hopefully there will be people who walk away with a whole new understanding of what to expect in a situation like this,” he said.

This post was updated to reflect the following changes:
A previous version of this article referenced the Emergency Medical Services Program by the wrong name. It is now correct. We regret this error. This post was also updated to clarify that only the free training for first-care providers is open to the public.

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