Author(s): Angelo Verzoni. Published on May 1, 2018.

People Get Ready

How NFPA 3000 encourages community involvement in the response to active shooter and hostile events


Whether it’s planning for an active shooter or hostile event, responding to one, or recovering from one, the public’s role is often overlooked. The events are seen primarily as first responder problems, but in nearly every aspect civilians can play a significant role in bettering outcomes. NFPA 3000™ (PS), Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program, makes this clear by pointing to programs like Stop the Bleed™, a federal campaign launched in 2015 that teaches the public techniques like tourniquet application and recommending bleeding control kits alongside automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools, malls, and other locations.

Some communities are already doing this. In 2014, Julie Downey, chief of Davie (Florida) Fire Rescue, was sitting in a meeting inside the Davie City Council chambers, just a day after a high-profile mass shooting elsewhere in the country, when she realized she didn’t have any bleeding control equipment at her disposal should somebody in the room need it. The next day, Downey and the city’s medical director created a kit containing tourniquets and special gauze designed for severe bleeding. They put one in the council chambers and dozens of other city buildings and began training city employees on how to use them. Eventually they persuaded the city to pass an ordinance requiring bleeding control kits wherever it requires AEDs—about 400 spots. Her hope is for NFPA 3000, which draws upon community experiences like Davie’s, to make these kits and bleeding control knowledge more widespread.

“We have to get the public more involved,” said Downey, an NFPA 3000 technical committee member. “If a shooting occurs or someone’s severely bleeding for any reason, it’s the people that are there that are going to make the difference. With arterial bleeding, in four, five, six minutes you can be dead. So it’s the people right there on scene [who need to] get involved, call 911, provide direct pressure, and then if needed, put on a tourniquet or hemostatic gauze. I’m very passionate about that—we have to get the bystanders more involved in doing something that will save a life.”

It’s a big ask considering there are some people who faint at just the sight of blood. But from the beginning, committee members recognized that NFPA 3000 as a whole has to change hearts and minds. “It has to be a culture shift,” said Richard Serino, the committee chair for NFPA 3000 who spent 36 years working in Boston EMS and served as the deputy director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Unfortunately, in the world we live in, we all have to be part of the solution—learn how to stop the bleed, learn how to save somebody’s life.”

In the Las Vegas shooting last October—the deadliest mass shooting in American history, with 58 killed and hundreds more injured—that’s exactly what happened. The crowd got involved, rendered aid, and helped transport victims away from the scene and to hospitals. “The crowd, in large part I think, helped contribute to how many lives were saved that night,” said Craig Cooper, special operations chief of Las Vegas Fire Rescue. “I’m really proud of the way that crowd responded. I think it’s a shift in mindset for our country to start looking at ways we can help ourselves—not be victims to these things, but be empowered by the knowledge and the tools we have to help people in need no matter where or when an incident occurs.”

ANGELO VERZONI is staff writer for NFPA Journal. Top Photograph: Getty Images