What can you say? What can you do? Are there solutions? These are all questions we ask ourselves.

Just a few days before the Umpqua Community College shooting, I was hanging out with a couple of fellow firefighters/paramedics from different agencies in Oregon. Little did we know that one of us would be the first paramedic and medical responder on scene.

During a mass casualty incident (MCI), the first EMS personnel on scene aren’t running around placing tourniquets, administering fluids, or saving lives at a record rates. They are performing one of the most difficult jobs in the world of emergency medicine: triage. From start to finish, the first on scene are there, categorizing every victim and deciding who is and who isn’t a priority. Whether young or old, a mass shooting is the worst day of your career as a medic.

Patients have a card attached that states their level of need, order of treatment, or if resources are better used elsewhere. The individuals working triage must make these decisions. There is no re-do, instant replay, or second-guessing and time-wasting. Not every decision will be perfect, but decisive action is necessary.

Mass Shootings and Social Currency

I want to give a shout-out to these often overlooked first responders and thank them for the countless lives they’ve saved and sleepless nights endured.

Luckily, I happened to be busy the few days following the shooting in my home state of Oregon. Sometimes it’s better to reflect on what really happened than let the fingers fly free in a social media frenzy. Maybe Facebook and Twitter should put a three-day waiting period on posting after a tragedy strikes. Chances are, the hate and gossip would still make its way through in the end. No one really tends to listen in a period of panic; everyone just waits for their turn to speak. 

Take all the guns away….