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Mass Shootings: Planning and Response for Fire and EMS Services

NCJ Number
August Vernon
Date Published
January 2013
44 pages
This instructional program for fire and emergency medical service (EMS) providers is threefold: to familiarize first-responders and command staffs with trends in active shooter/mass shooting events; with the nature of current and emerging threats; and with resources, plans, and training that will minimize the loss of life in these events.
The program first outlines the urgency posed by the trends in shooter/mass shooting events. These trends include the increased determination, violence, and armament of criminals and terrorists; the increasing frequency of such incidents; and the increasing variety of scenarios and settings in which such events are occurring. Given these trends, organizations in every sector of society are advised to give top priority to appropriate security measures in the facilities and settings in which their activities are conducted. This instructional program focuses on pre-incident planning, response issues, and the aftermath of the incident. In pre-incident planning, critical agencies are advised to meet and plan together. These agencies include law enforcement agencies, the fire department, EMS providers, the school system, and emergency management. Pre-planning should identify the top 10 locations at highest risk for mass shootings, which include educational institutions, high-profile businesses, and large crowds/venues. Other pre-planning issues discussed are a review of existing agency guidelines and procedures for responding to a mass shooting or threats of violence and multi-agency training exercises, as well as the creation and management of a crisis response kit. Instruction on response issues addresses the features of unified command, communications, protective clothing, interaction with designated contact persons at the target facility, when to enter the targeted facility, and victim assistance. Guidance for the aftermath of an attack include the establishment of family assistance centers near the site and remote locations as needed, helpline services, and stress management.