PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

February 27, 2013

Victim Has a Gun!

EMS training goes tactical to prepare for worst cases

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — A stampede of Emergency Medical Service officials thunders down the hallways of the abandoned National Guard training building on the grounds of Jack Brooks Airport, N Hwy 69, Nederland. A recent shooting has left several civilians down. When the officials arrived on scene and began to render aid to a young man, he pulled a firearm from his belt, causing everyone to scatter.

But still, there is a young woman in a different room, screaming for her life. Amid the chaos, another group of EMS officials moves quietly and efficiently toward the sound of her voice, never breaking formation. They hoist her over their shoulders and carry her to safety.

Once everyone is out of harm’s way, Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Rod Carroll addresses the squad. “Now, when you find out a victim has a gun, do you keep that to yourself?” he asks.

What appeared to be a crime scene was in reality a simulation, part of an EMS tactical training seminar held on Feb. 26. Officials from Beaumont’s EMS and fire department, the Vidor Police Department, Acadian EMS and Alpha Rescue EMS were among those present.

Carroll, along with Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods, has been providing training to officials in their office since an Orange County deputy sheriff was shot twice while transporting a juvenile to the Minnie Rogers Juvenile Center last January.

“I was fortunate enough to have a sergeant on the scene that had some training in the military, but it opened up our eyes,” Woods said. “Quite often, we’re out in the rural areas a long ways from help, and so we kind of need to prepare to take care of ourselves.”

The increase in public shootings over the last year also contributed to this simulation.

“You go back to 1966, you have the University of Texas tower shooting,” said Carroll, who is also a tactical paramedic. “That was an, ‘Oh my God.’ You know how many people were killed in that one? Nine. Would that even make the news today, beyond the first week?

“You look back this past year. Sandy Hook, Aurora, I’m sure there’s more. We’ve got to prepare everybody for this.”

Both Carroll and Woods agreed that it is important for medical technicians to learn to cooperate with law enforcement officials and vice versa.

“In a shooting situation where you may have multiple victims, naturally your first responders are going to be law enforcement and EMS people and firefighters,” Woods said. “I think it’s pretty imperative that we familiarize ourselves with each other’s tactics and terminology, and also prepare for that occasion should we have to work together.”

Carroll said he incorporated the victim pulling the gun in order to remind the medics to be prepared for everything.

“This is so different from standard EMS,” said Carroll. “For example, usually we’d have a stretcher, but you can’t carry it. You’re trying to be covert. You can’t make a lot of noise. And you never know when a victim could be a suspect. You hear about it all the time. We’re trying to open people’s minds.”

Christie Hale, the clinical coordinator of the EMS program at Lamar Institute of Technology, said that the simulation offered a unique experience for her students.

“This offers the opportunity for the medics to get involved with the sheriff department and be able to interact if we have this kind of incident,” she said. “We don’t get the opportunity to do this very often.”

In the event of an incident such as this one, Carroll said this simulation will prove invaluable.

“You’ve got to plan,” he said. “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”

 Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA