Tactical lifesaving in active shooter incidents

Every law enforcement officer in this country should be trained in these life saving Tactical Life Saver skills


A single man, James Holmes, walks into a movie theatre prepared to inflict death and carnage on innocent victims sitting in disbelief as he unleashes his vicious attack. This Lone Wolf meticulously planned his assault as he tossed smoke or gas devices into the crowded theater, and then fired his 12-gauge shotgun at the ceiling before turning it on the crowd. As panicked movie watchers raced for the exits, he switched to a .40 caliber pistol and a .223 caliber rifle to further his devasting murderous assault.

Then Holmes exited out of the back of the theater and was removing his body armor beside his car when he was confronted by officers who took him into custody.

This coward left in his violent wake 12 innocents dead and at least 58 others injured at the midnight showing of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado.

We Have More To Do
During the past several dozen years, law enforcement has had the unfortunate task of responding to many of these horrible events. We’ve developed and continously improved our active shooter response models. Most officers get active shooter training and many now carry patrol rifles. It’s common to see a “go-bag” on the passenger floorboard of a police cruiser driven by a well-prepared Warrior.

Where law enforcement is still slow to catch up with our military counterparts is combat casulty care. Imagine that this movie theatre was in your town and you were the first responding officer, are you prepared to start treating 58 gunshot wound victims? Do you have the training and first aid equipment needed in such an event?

The fact is most EMS will be overwhelmed during the initial response to this event no matter where you patrol. The active shooter incidents in this country time after time occurr in suburan cities and leave mass casulties. We can make a small difference in the survivability of these victims and perhaps our own with some simple training and first aid gear.

Tactical Life Saver training or Tactical Combat Casulty Care is not expensive.

Many organizations provide this type of training throughout the country ranging from a single day to a week. This training isn’t designed to make you a Paramedic, Tactical Medic or any other EMS responder. TLS provides every first responder the ability to treat a gunshot victim with some basic life saving first aid tactics “until” paramedics, tactical medics, or other EMS can provide the life-sustaining advanced medical care to keep these innocent victims alive.

Don't Tell Me Cops Can Do This Stuff!
Every law enforcement officer in this country should be trained in these life saving Tactical Life Saver skills!

The TLS training should be as routine as the basic first aid instruction such as CPR and AED that officers receive annually. I am tired of the EMS community saying that patrol officers can’t perform these functions. Any person sworn to uphold the laws of this country, trained and graduated from a police academy, is smart enough to be taught how to place a pressure bandage on a gunshot wound.

My six-year-old has helped me apply tourniquets to training simulators while preparing for a course. The fact is, every law enforcement officer in the United States can perform these simple, life-saving tactics to help prolong a victim’s life until advanced medical personel can take over.

This is proven by the Military’s TCCC data since they started training every combat soldier in Tactical Combat Casualty Care and the battlefield deaths have significantly decreased. Surely, we are just as capable as any military recruit in basic training to learn and perform this skillset.

Many police agencies like mine are providing this training to their officers. However, you may not be aforded that opportunity and your next option would be to attend a training session from a local police academy or police trainer.

A few objectives that you will want to make sure the training provides are:

1.) Priorties of the Tactical Life Saver
2.) Outfitting your “go-bag”
3.) Remote assessment operations
4.) Officer rescue tactics
5.) Airway management for massive facial & neck injuries
6.) Penetrating chest trauma such as sucking chest wounds from gun shots
7.) Hemorrage control for bleeding victims
8.) Hemostatic agents use
9.) Tourniquet use
10.) Shock control

These are some of the basic skills and tactics used by our Armed Forces to help save the lives of there combat buddies. TCCC does not take the place of combat medics, it simply enhances the soldiers ability to mimimize battlefield deaths. The same applies for law enforcement, it’s not meant to replace tactical medics, paramedics or EMS, it is meant to provide a chance that an officer can sustain life of a gun shot victim or any other victim for that matter, until advanced treatment arrives.

History Lessons
May 22nd 2011, Joplin Missouri a tornado levels the small town of 50,000 residents.

First responding officers arrive to the devastating scene and soon discover that they are overwhelmed with injured people, dead bodies, walking wounded, trapped victims in buildings, multiple fires and much more. Many police and fire personnel found themselves victims of the tornado as well, which further hampered first aid response.

Police officers and rescue crews dug through piles of splintered houses and crushed cars searching for victims of a half-mile-wide tornado that ultimately killed 162 people when it blasted much of this Missouri town and nearly destroyed its hospital.

You can listen to the first responders and the radio traffic of that incident on-line. Listen for yourself and then ask the question, am I really prepared for such an event?

There are many resources available such as books, training manuals, courses and trainers available on the subject. The necessary equipment will cost you anywhere from $50 to $100 and in no time you will be ready to save somebody’s life. The skillset used in TLS is useful at home, on accident victims and in the outdoors. Make the investment in somebody else’s future and get the training. They will be grateful and you will be prepared.

Stay safe.

About the author

Glenn French, a Sergeant with the Sterling Heights (Mich.) Police Department, has 22 years police experience and currently serves as the Team Commander for the Special Response Team, and Sergeant of the Sterling Heights Police Department Training Bureau. He has 14 years SWAT experience and served as a Sniper Team Leader, REACT Team Leader, and Explosive Breacher.

He is the author of the award-winning book “Police Tactical Life Saver” which has been named the 2012 Public Safety Writers Association Technical Manual of the year. Glenn is also the President of www.tacticallifesaver.org.

Glenn has instructed basic and advanced SWAT / Tactical officer courses, basic and advanced Sniper courses, Cold Weather / Winter Sniper Operations and Active Shooter Response courses, Tactical Lifesaver Course and others. Sgt French served in the U.S. Army. During his military tenure Sgt French gained valuable experience in C.Q.B., infantry tactics and explosive breaching operations. 

Contact Glenn French.

  1. Tags
  2. SWAT
  3. Officer Safety
  4. Active Shooter
  5. Mass Casualty Incidents
  6. Patrol Issues
  7. Tactical EMS / TEMS

Recommended Mass Emergency Response

Join the discussion