The National Fire Protection Association is fast tracking a new standard for preparedness and response to active shooter events.
NFPA processed NFPA 3000, Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events as a provisional standard – just the second time in over a century the council has authorized this type of process.
I applaud this effort by the NFPA, as these events are becoming far too frequent and more deadly with each passing year.
I think all emergency service providers understand that to be effective in these incidents, we have to work together. This proposed standard will provide a framework to help shape the response models of communities across the United States (and drag, kicking and screaming, those communities that have had their collective heads in the sand on this issue into preparation mode).
Police, fire and EMS have a role in these attacks; we all know that instinctively, but as I travel the country teaching these concepts, it occurs to me that many communities are looking for that guidance from a nationally recognized organization to help them bring it all together in a sensible and effective system. NFPA can provide that guidance.
Preparing citizens for active shooter events and natural disasters
The section in the provisional standard that really caught my eye was the role civilians can play in this response.
The fact of the matter is this: No matter how robust our response, no matter how much we train and plan and work together to bring a cohesive response to these complex events, we still will not be there when it happens.
Who will be there are the people attending the show, the fans at the sporting event, the students at the school: bystanders.
We need to invest in training our communities to be First Care Providers. We need to empower the people that are there when an attack occurs, not only in what to do to save themselves, but also in how to care for the injured until help arrives. We need a national call to action to train our citizens in how to be survivors and to make a difference until help arrives.
We need this standard to help shape and guide or response, planning and preparation, not only for active shooter/hostile events, but also for the hundreds of natural and manmade disasters that strike our country every day. Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, mudslides; all of these events have one thing in common: there are people there when they happen.
A majority of those people want to help, but they are not sure what to do. These bystanders are force multipliers that are underutilized and need to be recognized for the critical role they can play in saving lives.
A coordinated system of emergency response
Again, I applaud the NFPA 3000 effort. It is important and it is needed today. I just hope they include the people that are first on scene, and can be the first to render care: the First Care Provider.
Like it or not, our communities are under attack from many sides. Just like the days of the old civil defense in World War II, we must educate our citizens and give them the tools they need to help themselves in an emergency.
We need a coordinated system of unified response to active killer events, natural disasters and other catastrophic incidents, and it must include our civilian population. If we don't, we are dooming them to the role of victim, hoping that help reaches them in time.
If there is one thing my 30 years of fire service experience has taught me, it’s that hope is not a plan.