Friday, October 10, 2014

Extraordinary Performance

Every day, first responders put their own lives on the line to ensure our safety. The least we can do is make sure they have the tools to protect and serve their communities.

The After Action Report regarding the Aurora theater shooting has been released. It is a massive document that evaluates, in often minute detail, the actions of the individuals who responded. In the executive summary, the following:

"All victims with survivable serious wounds were rapidly triaged, transported to local hospitals and recovered." Later in the report, they confirm that everyone who could have survived did. 

Wrap your mind around that.

They attribute this outcome "in large measure [to] a combination of extraordinary performance by the initial wave of arriving police officers acting on their own judgment and training, the medical care at the scene administered by fire and EMS personnel and later in the hospitals."

The report is lengthy. It discusses some of the ins and outs of active shooter response (including training needs and equipment considerations), and such important (but often neglected) topics as where to park the police cars. Many of the recommendations discuss the need for combat casualty care training for law enforcement officers, and the kinds of equipment this might require. There is an interesting discussion about the desirability of transporting victims with chest and abdominal wounds in police cars that is must read.

The obvious crowd pleaser, Incident Command, is considered at length. The observations and recommendations made in this area are not something the press noted (the discussion of unified command structure and command post placement won't attract many people to a web site). Professional incident managers will digest them thoroughly.

The report isn't easy reading. The incident was traumatic, the results tragic. Some of it, including details on the apprehension of the suspect, were redacted in the interest of successful prosecution. Within the calm, carefully-chosen wording one can still get a sense of the chaos, the confusion and the horror. One disturbing passage related how difficult it was on officers guarding the theater to hear the cellphones of the deceased ringing. It doesn't take much to imagine the emotions of the callers.

One obvious theme runs through the 188 pages. The men and women who responded - cops, firefighters, paramedics, ambulance crews, victim advocates and the innumerable others - are well-trained, courageous professionals. 


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