Last week, the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company and the Bethany Beach Police Department, along with the Ocean View Police Department and South Bethany Police Department, joined together for a three-day training session on tactical emergency casualty care (TECC).
“It’s for active-violence-type situations, such as a school shooter event, any type of mass casualty incident where we might have a lot of patients,” explained Brian Martin, fire chief of the BBVFC. “We have a lot of events here in the Bethany area — 5Ks, triathlons, Fourth of July events, that type of stuff. So, we’ve begun the process of being prepared for some type of act of violence or hostile situation.”
Martin said law enforcement officers, fire officials and emergency medical personnel were working together to learn how to better deal with such a situation, if it were to occur.
“It’s sort of a national trend that’s just starting to take hold, with all the acts of violence across the country. The fire and EMS community is beginning to learn that it’s important to get first-responders to the patients as soon as possible.”
Martin noted that the school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 taught emergency officials that the sooner emergency medical attention can get to those in need, the better chance for a positive outcome.
“There were patients there that weren’t given EMS care quick enough because the police were still securing the area,” he said. “So we’re looking at changing those tactics and trying to get people emergency care a little quicker than we have in the past.”
The company overseeing the three-day TECC training is based out of Arlington, Va., and has a great deal of experience, said Martin.
“They’re very diverse in their instructor knowledge. They have an emergency-room physician, a combat veteran who’s an instructor. They do a lot with the government and military instructing. They’re very knowledgeable; the instruction is great.”
Martin said the first day of training was spent mostly in the classroom, giving some basic knowledge, with the second day focusing on more hands-on applications of what was learned. On the third day, a smaller group of individuals participated in the “training the trainer” education.
“Today, it’s a 10-person group, and we’re teaching those 10 people how to instruct other groups of people, so we can pass along the information to other people in the fire company and police department.”
Working with neighboring agencies and ensuring the public will be taken care of effectively and efficiently is of the utmost importance, said Martin. Therefore, having training sessions like the TECC training is critical.
“Working with other local police departments, we will be training on it frequently, like all the other tasks we perform. This will become another task that we train on,” he said.
“If we were unlucky enough to have an incident, the first people who are going to be responding are probably the police. Then, when we get there as fire and EMS, we’re going to have to work with them in order to get to the patients. It’s important that we understand what their job is and they understand what we need to do, so that we can work together.
“Working with the police is paramount. We can’t do our job unless they’re there, and vice-versa,” he said.