by Rob Morse
People are screaming and you’re looking at chaos. This is a medical training exercise with multiple injuries. It looks like there are, count them, four people injured in the parking lot in front of your local school. Some of the victims may be dead and some may be dying.
What are your going to do?
I watched two dozen teachers face that scenario during a training exercise. This is what they overcame.
- Is the scene secure?
- Is outside help on the way?
- Are these all the injured, or are there more injured people inside the school or lying behind a car where you can’t see them?
- Have the uninjured students been moved to safety?
- Who can you use to help you?
- What medical supplies do you have on hand right now, and how will you get more help until the EMTs arrive?
- ..and why is everyone yelling?
The training program is called FASTER, for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response. They taught school staff to stop a threat in their school. They also taught staff to treat the injured so the victims are alive when EMTs finally start treatment and evacuation.
This isn’t brain surgery. You make sure the injured can breathe and you stop massive bleeding. It takes practice to do even the simple things during such an emotional event.
A gunshot wound to the leg could be fatal if we left the person to bleed for the half hour it takes for the police to secure the scene. I got it wrong the first time. This scene was set up just outside a school. One of my tasks was to get medical resources moving toward the scene, and I blew it.
“You two, go tell “Ms Jones” that the scene is secure and to bring the medical kits from the office. I need the faculty here now. Bring the med kits back to me. Both of you, go now!”
I won’t make that mistake again.
That is why this training saves lives. Yes, you can invent tourniquets, chest seals, and pressure bandages from common items. Unfortunately, that takes time and creativity at a moment when those two items are in short supply. Since you’re grabbing every able-bodied bystander near you for help, it really is a better idea to have the medical supplies you need in your kit.
This training surprised me and I think it surprised many of the school staff who were in the exercise. These first responders had been authorized to carry a concealed weapon in their schools for several years. They might go to the shooting range to practice once a month, but they don’t get to practice their medical response nearly as often.
You could argue that medical training is more important than defensive training to keep our children safe at school. Most teachers will never have an armed attacker come to their campus. Arming school staff is also controversial and takes time to impliment. In contrast, their school will call EMTs for help. It could be for a drug overdose or for something as common as an accident in the parking lot. We can train many medical first responders for the cost of training a single armed defender.
We can have several medical responders on every hallway. And we should. We can give them medical training in an evening.
The FASTER program brings medical kits and training equipment to local schools. They train about 30 medical first responders at a time and put trauma-casualty kits in their hands as they leave the class. Better yet, we don’t need the sheriff’s approval to give medical training to school staff. Perhaps some of the local EMTs in your community could help.
The best news is that you can have medical training in your school even if state law doesn’t allow armed defenders. You could have this sort of training for your church and as well. Why don’t you?
Ask your school board and your church leaders if their safety plan included medical training for volunteer staff. School is about to start, so this is a good time to ask the question.
Asking the right question can save lives.. and it doesn’t cost you a thing.