Emergency Medical Services (EMS) routinely stage in a secure area in response to active shooter incidents until the scene is declared safe by law enforcement. Due to the time-sensitive nature of injuries at these incidents, some EMS systems have adopted response tactics utilizing law enforcement protection to expedite life-saving medical care.
Describe EMS provider perceptions of preparedness, adequacy of training, and general attitudes toward active shooter incident response after completing a tactical awareness training program.
An unmatched, anonymous, closed-format survey utilizing a five-point Likert scale was distributed to participating EMS providers before and after a focused training session on joint EMS/police active shooter rescue team response. Descriptive statistics were used to compare survey results. Secondary analysis of responses based on prior military or tactical medicine training was performed using a chi-squared analysis.
Two hundred fifty-six providers participated with 88% (225/256) pretraining and 88% (224/256) post-training surveys completed. Post-training, provider agreement that they felt adequately prepared to respond to an active shooter incident changed from 41% (92/225) to 89% (199/224), while agreement they felt adequately trained to provide medical care during an active shooter incident changed from 36% (82/225) to 87% (194/224). Post-training provider agreement that they should never enter a building with an active shooter changed from 73% (165/225) to 61% (137/224). Among the pretraining surveys, significantly more providers without prior military or tactical experience agreed they should never enter a building with an active shooter until the scene was declared safe (78% vs 50%, P = .002), while significantly more providers with prior experience felt both adequately trained to provide medical care in an active shooter environment (56% vs 31%, P = .007) and comfortable working jointly with law enforcement within a building if a shooter were still inside (76% vs 56%, P = .014). There was no difference in response to these questions in the post-training survey.
Attitudes and perceptions regarding EMS active shooter incident response appear to change among providers after participation in a focused active shooter response training program. Further studies are needed to determine if these changes are significant and whether early EMS response during an active shooter incident improves patient outcomes.
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