Dozens of firefighters, emergency medical service professionals and law enforcement officers completed two days of rigorous training in Morris County on how to quickly assess injuries, stop the bleeding, and save more lives during an active shooter or high-threat scenario.
Hosted by the Morris County Office of Emergency Management, the “Tactical Emergency Casualty Care” course was taught by experts and consultants with Pennsylvania-based Techline Technologies, Inc., using course materials developed by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.
The course was the first time Techline Technologies Inc. unveiled the newly introduced national curriculum, which allowed for an increased emphasis on hands-on training for emergency medical situations to decrease the number of preventable deaths.
And the timing was particularly relevant: the course was held one day after a gunman murdered four people and wounded 13 hours at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, and less than one week before at least 31 people were killed in two shootings that occurred at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and in Dayton, Ohio.
On the first day of the TECC course, Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon greeted the students that included local EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, police, members of his SERT team, members of the Morris County Office of Emergency Management’s Special Operations Group (SOG), along with the New Jersey State Police and the United States Secret Service.
“The job has changed, the dangers each of you face every day has changed. Today, thanks to each of you, people are being saved and that is a credit to the outstanding faculty teaching this course and each of you who will be here over the next two days becoming certified in these lifesaving skills. Years ago, many people died. Today you will save them. You’re right on the cutting edge of change in a real positive way that saves lives, and I thank each one of you for what you do to serve the public,” Sheriff Gannon said.
The course mainly focused on trauma-related injuries that occur in the austere environment inclusive of care under fire and warm zone integrated care inclusive of the new Rescue Task Force model that works at the direction of law enforcement before a scene is determined to be completely safe. Students also were instructed on how to perform self-aid, in the event they are wounded.
Some of the practical scenarios replicated providing medical intervention in an unstable and threatening environment which allowed the responders to practice techniques using tourniquets to control significant bleeding, hemostatic agents to better manage bleeding control, and apply specialized trauma dressings.
Instructors also taught positioning of patients to maintain an appropriate airway and preventing shock by keeping patients warm. They also emphasized a protocol for rapid medical assessment, called MARCH, which guides the responders in the manner that they assess patients: M, for massive hemorrhage; A, for airway; R, for respiratory; C, for circulation; and H, for hypothermia.
The course held at the Morris County Public Safety Training Complex took students through multiple simulated but gritty, grisly and disorienting scenarios where rescue efforts were integrated into tactical responses – just as reality would pose.
Students practiced carrying or dragging each other to safety. They were allotted seconds to secure tourniquets on others and later on themselves. They practiced tightening tourniquets on lifelike but artificial amputated limbs supplied by Techline and were forced to attend to and carry “wounded” mannequins and live role-playing victims to safety while being shot at by role players using mock bullets.
In teams, the students rushed into a warehouse where a mock explosion – simulated by a fog mist and virtually no lighting – had severely wounded several people who required tourniquets and other medical intervention before being carried out of the building.
The teams also went through a chaotic experience of sensory overload during which they had to navigate a pitch-dark room filled with music and strobe lights to find and treat patients.
All through the training, they also learned to check patients for weapons that might be turned on them, and to always communicate with each other at scenes.