7 Mass Casualty Mitigation Strategies

These strategies will improve your response to an active shooter or other attack to help mitigate death and injuries.

The following article originally ran as part of a larger story titled Active Incident Training, Preparing for the Future Threat.

In sports, it’s often said the best defense is a good offense.

This dictum also holds true for an active incident response: speed, shock and violence of action that neutralizes the threat in a timely manner will limit death and injuries as well as physical damage to the campus.

In addition to the timely and effective response by law enforcement/ security personnel, there are many strategies to limit the effect of the shooter or other type of attacker.

Below are seven of those strategies.

1. Notification: Prompt and intelligible notification of an incident and response instructions, over the range of electronic media, can save lives.

2. Training on campus: Training sessions to students as well as faculty and staff have already been identified as a strategy to prevent/deter the active incident in the first place. Training on recognizing and reporting suspicious behavior, active incident response, and campus emergency plans and capabilities also enhance response capabilities since potential victims know what to do in a threat situation so as not to impede responders; it also allows evacuees to provide needed information to responders. Furthermore, telling potential victims how to evacuate or shelter in place also saves lives.

3. Emergency operations center (EOC): The existence of an EOC and familiarity of campus leaders with its equipment and capabilities can save lives by supporting the timely, coordinated and effective response to an incident.

4. Campus role players: Use campus volunteers as role players in active incident training for officers. In addition to enhancing the campus’ appreciation of officer courage and capability, the information on effective victim responses learned in training is ultimately spread throughout the campus community.

5. Building floor wardens and campus emergency response personnel: These volunteers can help potential victims evacuate to safe assembly areas, thereby mitigating the effects of the incident.

6. Rescue task force (and casualty collection points and protected corridors): The RTF is the emerging strategy being adopted throughout the United States to expedite the provision of medical attention in the “warm zone,” as opposed to waiting for the neutralization of the threat before allowing medical responders into the “cold zone.” Earlier medical intervention, protected by accompanying law enforcement officers, stops the bleeding sooner, thus saving lives. In a similar vein, providing officers with tactical emergency casualty care (TECC) kits can save the lives of wounded officers and citizens.

7. MOUs with local law enforcement agencies, military installations and hospitals: Agreements that provide personnel, equipment and medical response can mitigate loss. Numbers on external building entrances as well as dissemination of campus addresses to local agency officers’ MDTs can expedite life-saving response.

Read Next: 25 Tasks to Consider When Developing a Response Plan for Armed Assaults

About the Author


Lt. John Weinstein is the commander of Northern Virginia Community College Public Safety District 3.

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