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How to Get a Rescue Task Force Off the Ground

There are two clocks running from the moment an active shooter begins; the shooter’s clock and the victim’s clock. One clock is concerned with living; one clock is concerned with dying. The shooter has to shoot as many people as possible before he’s stopped. The victim (casualty) has a period of time, depending on their trauma, where they can still be treated and live. The idea behind rescue task forces is to start working on the victim’s clock.

What’s the driving force for police in active shooter? Stopping the threat? Wrong. The goal is saving lives. The best way to do that is, yes, stopping the threat. However, only a small group of warriors are going to get their name on that plaque. If the first or second contact teams get into the building and are able to stop the threat, then you’ve stopped the killing. The waves of officers to follow should be looking for wounded to stop the dying.

I’m not saying contact teams should ignore the shooter and start applying tourniquets. You cannot treat people faster than the killer can shoot them and there’s no medicine in a gunfight. I’m saying look for employment. If you have no driving force indicating the shooter’s location (gunshots, people pointing down the hall or 911 details), then don’t start passing up casualties that can be easily treated in minutes. If you enter the hot zone and you have no driving force taking you somewhere else, then you are currently unemployed. If you cannot find a gunfight then look for employment; your driving force then becomes saving lives as you go.

Bleeding control should always be done under the umbrella of armed officers in your team holding cover. Punch into a room, clear it and now you’ve just set up a mini warm-zone to treat people. If you start to hear gunshots, screams or get updated information, then your driving force changes and it’s time to go after the threat. Treat the wounded and relay your position to the outside world so RTF teams can get in there and finish the treatment you started.

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