GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN) — An odd byproduct of the pandemic has been a downturn in the number of mass shootings, but now mass shootings seem to be making a comeback and first responders are refreshing their training to cope with them.
An instructor points an unloaded gun at an EMT and acts out a frightening scene:
He tells the EMT: “You’re on your knees, working on a patient." Now, acting as the gunman, he aims at the EMT and says, “Hey let him die…”
The EMT thrusts both hands straight up, diverts the gun away from his head, and works to strip the gun away from the simulated attacker.
This training recognizes a paramedic may be trying to save a shooting victim when the shooter comes back to finish the job.
The training reflects a change in strategy. In mass shootings years ago medical first responders were kept back until law enforcement was sure the shooter was no longer a threat. But that waiting cost lives that could have been saved.
Green Valley Fire Captain and ICSave instructor Mark Lytle says, “So what we're trying to do is shorten that time as soon as law enforcement moves through an area that they are relatively cleared. Now we can get EMTs to get in there and treat people before they bleed out."
But even with security in place some risk can remain that a shooter could double back so this week paramedics and EMTs from Green Valley Fire are learning to fight back and disarm an attacker.
The training is through ICSave a volunteer group of current and retired first responders. ICSave offers free defense and first aid training to agencies, churches, schools, anyone worried that they could come under attack.
First aid training puts priority on stopping the bleeding and moving a patient to safety.
Recent events give it new urgency. The disruption of the pandemic seemed to disrupt mass shootings too but they are on the rise again.
Lytle says, “So we need to up our game, we've been down, not really doing a lot of this training because of the COVID pandemic going on. So now, right now we're getting back into that training, especially with more and more of these events, these active shooter events continuing.”
And while medical first responders can usually give a patient their full attention, training like this prepares them for the day that could come when being able to care for the patient requires them to use some of their attention to defend themselves.