New Focus In Mass Casualties: Send Medics In Quickly To Save Lives


Federal officials and medical experts who studied the Boston Marathon bombing and mass shootings like the one last year in Newtown, Ct., have concluded that aggressive medical response could be critical in saving lives. The New York Times says the Obama administration has recommended that medical personnel be sent into “warm zones” before they are secured, when gunmen are still on the loose or bombs have not yet been disarmed. “As we say: Risk a little to save a little, risk a lot to save a lot,” said Ernest Mitchell Jr. of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The guidelines say that mass-casualty events, which have led to more than 250 deaths in the past decade, are “a reality in modern American life” and that “these complex and demanding incidents may be well beyond the traditional training of the majority of firefighters and emergency medical technicians.” They recommended that any of those first responders sent into “warm zones” focus on stopping victims' bleeding. The guidelines say that first responders should be equipped with body armor and be escorted by armed police, a policy that officials in some places have already adopted. The new focus on moving faster to treat victims follows an earlier shift in thinking about how quickly the police should respond.

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