Hostile events and mass shootings are complex. While addressing the immediate threat and treating casualties are the primary goals, emergency response extends far beyond the actual event. Once the immediate threat has passed and casualties are stabilized, the goal becomes doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
As more of these tragic incidents occur, the need for active shooter response readiness has reached a level that requires standardization, said John Ryan, coordinator of the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPaR) at Augusta University.
The National Fire Protection Association has written such a standard, called NFPA 3000, Standard for Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER), and Augusta will be the first city to utilize this standard as a road map to address these types of events. While the effort involves all facets of the community, it is being spearheaded by Augusta University, the Augusta office of the FBI and the NFPA.
The standard will take a year to fully implement and will begin with a kickoff training/symposium at 8 a.m. Jan. 16 at First Presbyterian Church, 642 Telfair St. Throughout the next year, the NFPA will closely monitor and document Augusta’s progress as a model for other communities that want to develop a standardized response process
“What we have found across the country is everybody is trying to do the right thing, but it’s not always the same thing,” Ryan said. “We get more effective when we standardize. We have standardization of the way we do CPR, of the way we’re responding to cardiac arrest. The topic of active shooter and active threat has risen to the level where we need to standardize the way we respond and recover.”
The symposium and kickoff event will be a full day of training with speakers from emergency management organizations across the country. John Montes of the NFPA will provide an overview of the standard. Other speakers include commanders from the Las Vegas Police and Fire departments who responded to the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017.
Dr. Richard Kamin, EMS program director for the University of Connecticut Health Center and one of the first responders to the Sandy Hook school shooting, will be the keynote speaker. Breakout sessions will follow in the afternoon with targeted information for different specialties, including civilian response, health care and first responders.
Dr. Amado Alejandro Baez, vice chair (OpMed) DEM and director of the Medical College of Georgia’s Center of Operational Medicine, is one of the authors of NFPA 3000 and will also speak at the symposium. He said one important challenge in these events is addressing the mental health and wellness of the responders and the overall community during and following such an event.
“The NFPA 3000 Standard addresses all aspects of the process, from identifying hazards and assessing vulnerability to planning, resource management, incident management at a command level, competencies for first responders and recovery,” Baez said. “The standard is key to a comprehensive and unified approach that addresses the best way to integrate field (fire, EMS and police) assets with hospital (definitive care) resources. Also, one key and extremely important aspect of this standard is the global community approach, creating a true integrated chain that combines prevention strategies with response and recovery programs and efforts.”
The symposium and training is free and open to the community. For more information, call (706) 729-2069.