By Randall Hanifen
Contributor, EDM Digest
Note: This article is the first in a series.
Cincinnati, where I work, last week experienced the biggest mass shooting in the city’s history. One person was killed and 17 others were injured at the Cameo nightclub.
Through a methodical response, the victims received care as soon as possible and were quickly transported to area hospitals. But this methodical response was no accident; it happened because of good preparation and procedures.
With some planning this type of response can be replicated in your own organization.
Get Needed Resources Quickly
The only successful way to mitigate any type of incident is to have the proper resources on hand, with the proper training and perform the needed tasks. Consider the number of resources available to you.
Larger cities have an advantage because of the resource-rich landscape in which they operate. The suburbs or rural areas have fewer resources. But proper planning can overcome a deficiency in resources.
First, determine the location and number of resources, both internal and external, that are available to your organization. In some states, this action might involve signing special mutual aid agreements. In other states, the state has a mutual system in place.
Next, group your resources into alarms. When I first started in my department, we told the dispatcher specifically which unit we wanted to respond and from where it should come. Initially we had to do this from memory, which wasted time and energy. Now, we just might ask for a “second- alarm EMS assignment” and the prescribed number of units will show up.
Set Up the Scene Correctly
Treatment and transportation of mass victims require a methodical approach, just like people on an airport taxi line being assigned to a cab one by one. First, you need to deploy EMS resources that will triage, treat and prepare the victims for transportation. You’ll also need someone to serve as a transportation group supervisor, who will match ambulances to patients’ needs and coordinate their destinations.
The key for fire companies or initial medical units (if these two organizations are not already combined) is to perform triage and treatment of victims as soon as possible. Subsequent medical teams can then serve as transporting units.
This is a significant change from the typical EMS call, in which one medic unit completes all of the triage and treatment processes.
In the next blog post, we will discuss making triage and treatment areas efficient and how to coordinate the overall command.