As they say hind sight is 20/20. What I’m afraid of is that we are not using all the hard-earned lessons learned from combat. Although lessons have been applied, such as the leaps in trauma care, we still have areas to improve. I will give 2 examples;
The first example is training, as a society (not including law enforcement, fire or EMS) we do not train on techniques to identify, stop and potentially survive the next attack. I am not stating that civilians need to train like a solider and take up arms and fight. However, what can be done is to learn how to be alert, be situational aware, properly report suspicious activity, learn basic trauma medical care to stop the bleed, and the list goes on. These are simple basic skills yet people and organizations do not take the time and effort due to cost, time or whatever other excuses they will make.
Second and a very worrisome observation is a trend I am seeing when it comes to responding to an Active Shooter, or Active Assailant. What I am refereeing to is the overwhelming response from Police, Fire and EMS. As a former first responder, I understand the urge to be involved. For some of us it’s in our DNA to get to the action and help. What I haven’t seen is a level of Command and Control dictating what assets are to stay on the scene. As to not be misunderstood, I’m not stating that there should not be an overwhelming initial response, what I am saying is that the scene needs to be cleared of all unessential personal as quick as possible.
As I see this trend I also reflect back over 10 years ago while I was operating in combat zones. Complex, coordinated attacks which involves multiple events happened regularly. Assailants would attack one site wait for first responders and attack again hitting the first responders. Or attack, wait for first responders, then attack a different and separate location in a divide and conquer tactic. They would also attack multiple sites simultaneously. These are the scenarios that I believe which are coming next.
Reflecting on previous events, AFTER the Assailant has either been arrested or killed and you will see first responders standing around, without thought of the potential of a follow-on attack or attacks. I understand it’s an active crime scene however the mindset needs to include being prepared for the potential of follow on attacks. First, assets need to be redeployed so that all or the majority of your forces are not consolidated in one spot. Second they also need to be ready to respond to a second or third attack in a variety of locations.
Every attack ratchets up the carnage as seen with the Las Vegas massacre. While police, fire departments and EMS agencies compile their lessons learned so are those that wish to do us harm. They are also looking at this event, other incidents, the response and creating their own lessons learned so they can plan accordingly to maximize their affect.
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity” ― Sun Tzu