Recent terror attacks abroad and the GOP shooting right here in the United States last week has started a national conversation on how people can save lives if put in an active shooter situation.
Dr. Ryan Lewis with STAR ER said it’s as easy as knowing basic medical skills that can mean the difference between life and death. He said the first thing you should do is try to get yourself to safety.
“Run if you can. Hide if you can’t get out. Fight if you have no alternative whatsoever,” says former SWAT team member, Dr. Ryan Lewis. “And then after the event is over or when it’s safe to do so, treat any casualties there.”
Dr. Lewis spent more than 14 years working with SWAT teams across the country and is now the CEO of a private company that specializes in active shooter training. He says the best way to save lives is to learn how to treat injuries you might see in the field.
“Unfortunately 60 to 70 percent of the casualties of these events end up bleeding to death before any professional medical workers can get there,” Lewis said.
When people are prepared for these kinds of situations, it increases the chance for survival.
“Lives can be saved with simple tourniquet application,” Lewis said. “Many lives are being credited to being saved with improvised tourniquets and people with immediate knowledge on scene.
In many of these events, it takes longer for emergency personnel to reach victims and that’s why Lewis recommends pre-training before these events take place.
“There’s a sliver of time at any of these events where we are the true first responders,” Lewis said. “And until the first responders can get there, you’re going to be on your own.”
Lewis said the first medical steps that should be taken are to stop any bleeding. He said to do this after you are positive you’re in a safe location.
“For bleeding, apply direct pressure. If you need to have a makeshift tourniquet then you can make one with a belt and use some sort of stick.” Lewis recommends.
Although most people will never be in a situation like this, Lewis said it’s the public’s duty to be prepared to help in an emergency.
“Really all we can do as civilians is to be aware of what’s going on around us, trying to be as trained as we can,” Lewis said. “It’s not about paranoia, it’s about preparation.
You can find more information on active assailant preparation on the Department of Homeland’s Security website. You can also reach out to STAR ER who can assist in finding local classes.