What is a Rescue Task Force?
Americans are increasingly facing scenarios in which medical first responders are required to operate in dynamic, high threat environments. Since 2004, there have been more than 15 high threat violent events (e.g. terrorist attacks, active shooters or violent MCI) resulting in over 3000 injuries and 374 deaths in the United States or allied developed nations. The Aurora, CO attack on July 20, 2012 and the Boston Marathon Bombings are the most recent examples of the need for improved EMS, Fire and law enforcement response coordination during active violent incidents (AVI). These complex events require rapid but nuanced interagency coordination. The lack of standardized principles to describe pre-hospital medical operations in high threat civilian environments places our first responders and our communities at unnecessary risk.
All casualty care requires the responder to access, assess, stabilize and evacuate the casualty to a higher level of care. By utilizing military lessons to integrate operational and medical considerations, TECC provides first responders with a powerful tool set; common language, common understanding of critical tasks and common tiered skill sets. The shootings in Aurora provide an excellent example of these principles. The perpetrator’s use of tear gas and the massive number of walking wounded limited first responder access to casualties. As a result, law enforcement served as the first point of care (assessment and stabilization) and evacuation for 18 of 26 casualties transported in the first 30 minutes of the response.
After Columbine, police tactics changed to rapidly address the immediate threat – these
tactics have been shown to be critical in ending the killing. However, Fire and EMS response has been slow to adapt to these scenarios resulting in significant delays to care for the injured. Knowing that the “fate of the injured lies in the hands of the one who provides the first care to the casualty,” Fire/EMS services need to change the paradigm of response for these events to save lives.
The applications of high threat medicine are far reaching in Fire/EMS systems, beyond just the traditional tactical and law enforcement medicine. In June of 2013, the International Association of Fire Fighters released a position statement endorsing both the use of TECC and the model response of escorted warm zone medical operations called Rescue Task Force. Developed by Arlington County Fire Department (VA) in 2008, RTF is a best practice operation to rapidly deploy medics into areas that are clear but not secure during an active shooter/active violence incident using law enforcement security and proper PPE.
This training for both LE and Fire/EMS discusses common characteristics of active shooter events and provides the foundation for local development of active shooter coordinated interagency response. Using a unique format, this course provides TECC training to both LE and Fire/EMS, and ends with full speed practical scenarios with integration between the two disciplines.
Articles about departments using this concept: