How should you respond to an active assailant? Pleasant Valley fire company hosts training

Carroll County Emergency Services Association (CCVESA) paired with the Emergency Health Services Program of George Washington University to bring FEMA-sponsored training on how to respond to an active assailant to Carroll.

The Pleasant Valley volunteer fire company hosted Sunday’s session, but there will be two more in the coming months. The first is Nov. 18 at the Carroll County Public Safety Training Center and the second is Dec. 9 at the Sykesville Freedom District volunteer fire company. Participants are asked to pre-register, but they can accommodate some walk-ins.


The four-hour civilian course Sunday was on Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC), and was heavy on ways that everyday people could stop bleeding and address wounds before EMS help arrived.

“What you all do in those first few moments after this happens is going to have a huge impact on whether people live or die,” said instructor Geoffrey Shapiro, director of EMS and operational medicine training at George Washington University.

He has worked for years providing pre-deployment medical training for federal law enforcement and military personnel.

Heavy focus in the course was placed on teaching hands-on medical skills like applying a tourniquet or packing a wound.

Another focus was dispelling myths.

One is that tourniquets should never be used because they will lead to loss of limbs. Another is that injured people should never be moved.

Kathy Lowe, a participant in Sunday’s training, said she was glad to have come because information changes and it’s good to stay up-to-date.

In an emergency situation, people go through denial and deliberation before they are able to act. The faster a person can get through that, the faster they’ll be able to take direct action.

“As big bad and tough as many of us think we are, at the end of the day, these are not normal situations,” Shapiro said. “There’s this misconception that during a crisis you’re going to get all this energy...that’s few and far between. What happens more often is people panic.”

One way to prepare is to begin rehearsing, doing drills, and getting in the habit of noticing exits.

The instructors taught participants ways to carry injured people, how to apply a tourniquet, how to make an improvised tourniquet,how to clear an unconscious person’s airway, how to pack a wound, how to address a wound that punctures the chest and other skills.

The abbreviation SCAB-E — situation, circulation, airway, breathing and then everything else— was the order instructors taught.

The course makes use of techniques developed for battlefield medical care.

“These classes were established to try and take those best practices that were saving lives on the battlefield and make them appropriate to use back home,” Shapiro previously told the Times.


On Saturday and Sunday, fire and EMS from several Carroll fire companies and members of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office participated in Rescue Task Force training.

The training was a chance for them to practice working together in an abnormal situation, share resources and see each other in action.

Sunday morning, for one exercise, EMS providers split into teams. Instructors applied red tape to one team’s bodies to mark wounds and they played the role of patients. The other team paired with the law enforcement and practiced entering a building and attending to the injured.

Pleasant Valley Fire Chief Forrest Shaw said “We work with these guys all the time, but this was a lot different.”

He sees the weekend training as the basis for more training in the future. By collaborating with law enforcement, the fire companies can evaluate where gaps are and reconfigure response kits.

“It’s invaluable for identifying equipment we need,” he said.

More information on the upcoming TECC classes, as well as registration forms, can be found on the CCVESA website at