NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Metro area fire departments and MEMS are preparing for the worst to keep students safe.
Monday through Wednesday this week, active shooter & mass casualty training is underway for the North Little Rock, Sherwood and Gravel Ridge Fire Departments.
Moving fast and thoroughly with first aid equipment and bulletproof vests, the manufactured emergency is what it would be like if an active shooter injured a large amount of people, leaving them in need.
North Little Rock Fire Battalion Chief Wesley Stephens said their vehicles usually can transport one, two or three people at most.
“This scenario right here, it overwhelms our resources very, very quickly,” Stephens said. “It can also overwhelm our hospitals.”
To determine who gets care first, an approach has been developed and is now in practice. In stations, each firefighter is reviewing techniques they use often such as stopping bleeding, but also training in essential skills they don’t use every day like communicating with a command station of police, fire, and EMS or identifying who has the priority to remove for treatment.
“We tend to try and save anyone we come across, and in this situation, there are sometimes you may have to write somebody off that’s probably not going to make it to help somebody with a better chance of survivability,” Stephens explained.
This year, MEMS Responder Liaison Bob Hunthrop is training agencies across central Arkansas with a new technique to categorize and transport patients.
“The goal is to get the patients that are the most urgent off the scene as quickly as possible to the hospitals,” Hunthrop said.
The new system uses triage tape, which shows if someone is red and in need of urgent care or green and can wait. Other colors show if someone is in the middle or dead. The tape will replace a system with cards, which could be difficult to see in low light or on heavy clothing.
“When you walk into a room or are if you are at a treatment area, you want to very easily see what their tag is,” Hunthrop said.
Each second shaved in the firefighter’s classroom could be the difference between life and death. Not only during a school shooting, but other emergencies year-round.
“This is the same people we respond with every day whether it is a tornado or a large vehicle accident on the Interstate, so practicing with them helps with those as well,” Stephens said.
The training started Monday and ends Wednesday to reach all the men and women in the participating departments. According to Hunthrop, the Little Rock Fire Department will have similar training.