In light of the tragic events at the Sandy Hook Elementary School last week, Bill Kimball, Founder/Owner of Safety Management & Response Training Associates wrote in ECSI eNews: December 2012 that,
On December 14, 2012, a lone gunman stormed the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT and unleashed a torrent of violence, the likes of which the state had never experienced. When the shooting ended, twenty children (all under the age of 10) and six adults were dead.
As a native of Connecticut, a parent of two children ages 4 and 7, and the author of last September’s ECSI article entitled “Active Shooter Survival,” I feel compelled to put aside the typical “tips and tricks” article and instead address the mass murder which occurred.
While these types of senseless crimes seem to have become our new reality, the events at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Century Aurora, and now Sandy Hook Elementary have shown that “everyday citizens”—those likely to be the first on scene—can be responders, even placing themselves in harm’s way in the defense of others.
As the confusion and chaos of December 14th begins to settle, stories of sacrifice, courage, and heroism from these lay-rescuers have emerged. These are stories of teachers and school administrators who didn’t hesitate to take action, protecting the children in their charge without regard for their own safety.
As emergency services providers, it’s in our DNA to solve problems, ease suffering, and prevent harm. If you’re anything like me, one of the first questions on your mind after learning about the Connecticut shooting was likely, “What can I do to help?”
My answer to you is that you’re already helping. Every time we teach a lay-rescuer course as emergency care educators, we are empowering our constituents to handle emergencies. It is our solemn privilege and responsibility to continue teaching these civilians—who are increasingly called upon as the nation’s true first responders—how to react in the face of crisis and ambiguity.
Newtown, CT has now joined a small but rapidly expanding club, membership to which no one asked for. We must pause to mourn the innocence lost, to pray for the ones who survived, and to keep good thoughts for our brother and sister responders who bore witness to this unspeakable tragedy.
Next month we’ll return to the standard format for providing tips, tricks, and training ideas to help ECSI education centers enhance their offerings. For now, however, let’s all take a moment to hug our own children just a little tighter.