Combined Response to Mass Casualty Attacks

Combined Response to Mass Casualty Attacks


In June 2017, the IACP and Target hosted a symposium on combined response to mass casualty attacks in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The symposium had more than 130 participants from the law enforcement, emergency medical response, private security, and business communities. 

The purpose of the symposium was to examine effective practices for responding to mass casualty incidents and to incorporate those practices into a document aimed at engaging law enforcement, other first responders, and private sector leaders in conversations and partnerships to prepare for such incidents. These threats are ever-evolving and require a shift in focus from only active shooters to a broader spectrum of active assailants who use everything from knives to vehicles to cause widespread harm.

The symposium included case studies on the Century 16 Theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport shootings in Florida, highlighting issues encountered during the response and lessons learned. Participants discussed approaches to tactics integration with law enforcement, private security, and fire and emergency medical services working together. 

The overarching themes were preparedness and the importance of a collaborative response between public responders and the private sector. Past incidents have demonstrated that prior engagement between private sector partners and the whole responder community, including law enforcement, fire, and EMS, can help improve response when a mass casualty attack occurs. The importance of training for mass casualty incidents on a continual basis and incorporating new threats as they evolve was also emphasized. 

A working group of law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services, and private sector security subject matter experts assembled after the symposium to refine information discussed and to develop this summary document, which is divided into three categories: Preparation, Response, and Recovery. Within each category is a range of strategies and suggestions, as well as links to further resources. 

Law enforcement, emergency medical response agencies, and private sector partners are encouraged to download the document not as a policy guide, but as a starting point for developing their own specific plans, policies, and training.




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