“Raise your hand if you are still alive” Integrating Law Enforcement and Emergency Medical Services During Critical Incident Response




Schirard, Joshua

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



While procedures surrounding police response to critical incidents and active shooters have drastically evolved since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the current paradigm is highly-focused on rapidly dominating and neutralizing the threat. While this is successful in stopping the propagation of further violence and injury, it does little to help those who are already injured and may die as a result of their wounds and the time it takes to provide them treatment. Recent critical incidents in the US involving a large number of wounded have begun to shed light on the pitfalls of this current modus operandi. Many of these mass casualty events like the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shooting, or the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando Florida were large-scale events that persisted for several hours before police were able to feel confident that the threat(s) had been neutralized. In instances such as these, it would be unacceptable to keep rescue outside of the theater of operations for this amount of time. In an effort to save as many lives during and after a critical incident, police departments should begin establishing agreements, protocols, and training with their jurisdiction's emergency medical services, fire departments, and rescue services to create fluidly integrated "task forces" that maintain the ability to engage hostiles and adequately treat and rescue wounded persons. Furthermore, these "Rescue Task Forces" must maintain the ability to be a self-contained and self-sustaining unit capable of operating independently of one another as an element of a more-extensive force. The evolution of response to active attacks has wholly adopted the mantra, Stop the Killing; now law enforcement must collectively focus on the next phase, Stop the Dying.


Crisis Management, Emergency Management