Local first responders give tips on active shooter situations
CHICO, Calif. - In many ways, it's nearly impossible to prepare for an active shooter situation, but in the unfortunate event that there is one Chico Fire Rescue said there are specific ways to respond.
Andrew Oberg is a Chico firefighter and former SWAT medic. He said the first thing to do after shots are fired is run and keep running until you're as far away as possible. Those who can't run should hide. People should only stop to help others when the threat is eliminated.
"It's sad that [in] this day and age we have to think about that, but we also have to be prepared. When you're somewhere, always be thinking 'how can I get out safely?'" explained Chico Fire Division Chief John Kelso.
He said this is especially important in an active shooter situation like in Las Vegas, where the entire 911 system becomes inundated.
"Every facet, medic, police, fire, dispatch, all of them," said Divison Chief Kelso. "So we have to be of the mindset of know where you're at, know how to kind of take care of yourself, because in a disaster, we're going to have to count on ourselves for a while until the first responders can get to you."
Common practice now puts the firefighters alongside the police department in an active shooter situation in order to treat the victims as soon as possible and remove them from the hostile situation.
Still, the bystanders will always be first on scene. Fire crews said the first course of action for those who can stop and help an injured person without being in harms way themselves is to stop the bleeding.
"The two options that you have would be direct pressure, basically using a t-shirt, or your hand or whatever, and applying pressure to that wound itself to stop or slow the bleeding until help arrives," explained Andrew Oberg. "Or using a tourniquet."
A tourniquet is a device for stopping the flow of blood through a vein or artery, typically by compressing a limb with a cord or tight bandage. If you don't have any of those, a shirt or rope will work too.
"The goal of the tourniquet is to stop the bleeding at the source, so if you put it over the wound, it's not going to be effective at stopping the bleeding," explained Oberg. "That's why it needs to go 2-4 inches above [the wound]."
After tying, insert a stick or something similar and twist it to secure the tie. This will stop the blood flow until paramedics can arrive. The commercial tourniquets come with a windlass, which looks like a stick that tightens the Velcro strap.
"It's going to be bleeding control," said Oberg. "That's going to be the thing that would predominately kill somebody that you can actually treat and take care of."
Rescues involving swift water or falling from a cliff are more common in Chico, but regardless of the situation, Chico Fire said it trains year around to ensure it's ready to remove that victim in any danger, as quickly and safely as possible.