Willingness of Emergency Medical Services Professionals to Respond to an Active Shooter Incident


Chovaz M, Patel RV, March JA, Taylor SE, Brewer KL 18(4). 82 - 86 (Journal Article)

Background: Historically, staging of civilian emergency medical services (EMS) during an active shooter incident was in the cold zone while these professionals awaited the scene to be completely secured by multiple waves of law enforcement. This delay in EMS response has led to the development of a more effective method: the Rescue Task Force (RTF). The RTF concept has the second wave of law enforcement escorting civilian EMS into the warm zone, thus decreasing EMS response time. To our knowledge, there are no data regarding the willingness of EMS professionals to enter a warm zone as part of an RTF. In this study, we assessed the willingness of EMS providers to respond to an active shooter incident as part of an RTF. Methods: A survey was distributed at an annual, educational EMS conference in North Carolina. The surveys were distributed on the first day of the conference at the beginning of a general session that focused on EMS stress and wellness. Total attendance was measured using identification badges and scanners on exiting the session. Data were assessed using χ2 analysis, as were associations between demographics of interest and willingness to respond under certain conditions. A p value < .01 indicated statistical significance. Results: The overall response rate was 76% (n = 391 of 515 session attendees). Most surveys were completed by paramedics (74%; n = 288 of 391). Most EMS professionals (75%; n = 293 of 391) stated they would respond to the given active shooter scenario as part of an RTF (escorted by the second wave of law enforcement) if they were given only ballistic gear. However, most EMS professionals (61%; n = 239 of 391) stated they would not respond if they were provided no ballistic gear and no firearm. Those with tactical or military training were more willing to respond with no ballistic gear and no firearm (49.6%; n = 68 of 137) versus those without such training (31%; n = 79 of 250; odds ratio, 2.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-3.3; p < .001). Conclusion: EMS professionals are willing to put themselves in harm's way by entering a warm zone if they are simply provided the proper training and ballistic equipment.

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