Despite some discussions going back to late last year about changing they way we respond to mass shootings, I’ve not heard of any major municipalities actually make these changes – until now. Responders in Kansas City, MO (KCM) have exercised their new plan regarding early insertion of EMS personnel into an active shooter scenario. The exercise appears to be very early stage, using it as a learning experience from which to further develop plans. (another great use of exercises!)
I commented on the discussed changes back in January and I still have the same concerns today that I did then. I had posted some discussion threads similar to my blog post onto LinkedIn discussion boards which prompted some very spirited discussion. Most people agreed that getting EMS into an active shooter area early can save lives, but it needs to be done the right way. KCM seems to be going in the right direction by developing plans and protocols jointly with law enforcement and working out the kinks and questions via drills and other exercises. Carrying the preparedness cycle further, I’m sure they will work toward training and equipping EMTs appropriately for such a situation. Constant practice of these protocols by all parties will be very important. Responder safety needs to be the utmost concern. While there have been incidents to the contrary, we as responders and we as a society are not used to EMTs and firefighters being shot at, much less killed in action by an aggressor. Certainly the first EMT fatality in an incident such with an early insertion protocol will result in the protocol being aggressively questioned – as it should. I just hope that those doing the questioning keep the appropriate context.
Just as there is no easy answer on how to stop mass shootings, there are no easy answers on how best to respond to them. I’m hoping KCM is willing to share their worked out plan and protocols with the responder community so we can learn from them. Such sharing will be very important to the evolution of responses to these types of incidents.
© 2014 Timothy Riecker