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Definition of a Critical Incident and Emergency Management

June 23, 2012

A critical incident is an event that can develop from a normal situation becoming more tasking then the initial responders have the capabilities to deal with immediately. There are times that incident can turn to the critical stage after balancing between, standard emergency and response, to active engagement to preserve the priorities of life. Other examples of critical incidents include, natural, man-made, civil disorder, and any and all incidents that put lives in jeopardy with a higher than normal probability of serious bodily injury or loss of life. In these types of situations, extraordinary measures, which require extraordinary actions due to exigent circumstances, dictate the level of force to mitigate the threat.

An active-shooter is the most common and discussed incident relative to emergency management at present within the conversations and planning phases of police and EMS operations. An active shooter is “loosely” defined as a person with a firearm attempting to inflict as many casualties as possible in a single event. The attack phase of an active-shooter incident can be coordinated to archive multiple events simultaneously or a destructive attempt to kill or maim as many victims as possible. From a responder phase, the goal of resolving the critical incident is swift and deliberate actions up to and including the removal of the threat by most means possible. The Columbine High School shooting is more than likely the most notable event to reference. The police were not prepared for the event and there was little if any protocol in place to have the “ACTUAL” first responders tries to stop the threat without the assistance of a tactical unit. Now patrol officers are trained to arrive in teams and do all that is possible to eliminate the threat immediately once three of four officers arrive on scene, they are trained in response techniques. The Virginia Tech shooting is an example of “better” (not great) pre-planning that Columbine as although there was a massive loss of life, the incident was handled to the best of the officers abilities and resources at the time.

These are the three elements of an active shooter:

1. An Incident that threatens to take lives or actually takes lives
2. Causes substantial risk to the property or well being of a portion or all of a community
3. Requires the commitment of resources beyond those normally available

Thanks for reading,

Christopher Grollnek

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