First responders attend mass casualty training

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Members of the first responder community – including emergency medical, fire, and law enforcement – attended a training session on May 19 and learned valuable techniques to sharpen their performance in the event of a mass casualty event. This day of instruction was presented by Darlington Rescue Squad and Poseidon Air, Land, and Sea training company and hosted by Bethea Baptist Home.

“We’re here to learn about the before, during, and after of a mass casualty incident, with a focus today on school shootings,” said Anna Dewitt, treasurer for Darlington Rescue Squad. “We’ll talk about how to prepare, what to do during an incident – like using tourniquets and performing basic first aid – and the aftermath, like what happens when the media leaves and a town is left to deal with a tragedy.”

Speaker Daniel McManus of Poseidon Air, Land, Sea gave tips for improving your chances of surviving a mass casualty event – such as an attack by an active shooter – by pre-planning and being vigilant.

McManus suggested having open discussions among your family or co-workers about what to do in the event of an incident. Practicing situational awareness, learning where the exits are, agreeing on rally points, and packing a go-bag with emergency medical supplies (especially a tourniquet) could increase your chances of surviving a dangerous incident.

In the event of an active shooter, McManus advises against pulling the fire alarm, because this may only serve to increase confusion and flush more people toward the shooter. Instead, try to escape first. If your escape routes are cut off, find a secure room with a lockable door and get out of sight.

If you are able to call 911, try to remain calm and give them relevant and useful information. For instance: “My name is Jane Johnson. I am a teacher at Anytown High School. There is a man with a gun in the Science Lab. There are 12 students hiding in Room 106. I will not hang up.” Then silence your phone and stay on the line until help arrives.

McManus said that most gunmen will not spend longer than a few seconds trying to unlock a locked door. After the gunman passes by, assess yourself and your group for injuries and provide first aid if necessary.

Emergency medicine specialist Dr. Eric S. Weinstein focused on how everyone from emergency personnel to everyday citizens can provide potentially life-saving care for injured persons by prioritizing “life-threatening bleeding” and applying effective techniques to keep victims alive until they reach a hospital.

“You are the help until the help arrives,” said Dr. Weinstein.
Weinstein said these highly dangerous bleeds usually present in the following ways: spurting wounds that won’t stop flowing; blood-soaked clothes; loss of part of arm or leg; and victims who are confused or unconscious due to blood loss.

Once you identify the bleed, the first action is to compress and control blood loss by covering the wound (or stuffing the wound with cloth if it is large and deep) and applying pressure. Perhaps the most effective method of applying pressure, said Weinstein, is a tourniquet. Wrap a band or strips of cloth about 2 to 3 inches above the bleeding site (not on a joint, if possible) and twist the band tight until the bleeding stops. By simply halting or slowing blood loss, the chances of a victim making it to the hospital alive drastically increase.

“Studies show that those who arrive alive pretty much stay alive,” said Dr. Weinstein.

Also, mark the time the tourniquet was applied and loosen it about every two hours to allow blood flow to resume. Weinstein said that most worries about tourniquets leading to loss of limbs are unfounded, and the benefit of halting of blood loss far outweighs any such concerns.

Rev. Michael Bingham of Darlington Rescue Squad discussed the importance of “keeping gas in your tank” in a psychological and emotional sense. Bingham advised emergency workers to make sure they have people in their lives with whom they can honestly discuss their work, and to take vacations and spend time refilling their personal energy reservoirs so that when an emergency happens, they are sufficiently fueled to perform at their best.

Author: Stephan Drew

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