20 February 2017

The Public Must Be Prepared to Run, Hide, Tell & Treat

Following the attacks in Paris in November 2015, which resulted in 130 people being killed and 360 injured, mainly by small arms fire, the UK armed police changed their tactics for dealing with an attack by terrorists using small arms.

If such an incident now happens in the UK, armed police will ignore the dying and injured. Their primary aim is to eliminate the threat first. Training exercises carried out in British shopping malls, including the Trafford Centre in Manchester in May 2016, and in Meadowhall in Sheffield in March 2017, revealed that it can take over 100 minutes before armed police are able to eliminate the threat. And only once that has happened can paramedics be let onto the scene to treat the injured.

Such a lengthy wait can result in many severely wounded people dying before they receive medical treatment but the reality is that the police have to first eliminate the threat to make the scene safe and secure before anyone can be allowed to focas on treating the dying and the injured. 

CitizenAID’s recommendation that those caught up in a terrorist incident – many of whom may not be trained in first aid – should treat others with severe, life-threatening wounds by triaging and applying tourniquets is potentially controversial. But if it can take up to two hours before trained paramedics can get to the scene it becomes more of a pragmatic solution.

The suggestion is based on the military’s operational experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan in cases of severe injury. It has been found that first aid applied in the first ten minutes of a person sustaining the injury can save their life. Soldiers applying tourniquets and packing to life-threatening gunshot and bomb blast wounds has been shown to save many lives.

The charity has produced a FREE app to help people in this situation. Using mainly icons rather than words, it is has been designed to reduce anxiety from making difficult decisions in what would clearly be an unfamiliar situation.

Even though a person my not have any first aid experience, it’s important that severe bleeding is treated immediately. A victim can literally bleed to death within a few minutes, and bleeding from limbs in particular can be effectively stopped. CitizenAID is even looking to place medical equipment to treat such wounds at various locations such as shopping malls.

Steve Bray, our Managing Director at SP Services says "I firmly believe that the UK government needs to update it's message from “Run, Hide, Tell” to “Run, Hide, Tell and Treat”. it could help save lives when an attack happens in a public place. If a similar approach was used at the likes of the Westgate Mall or Olympia Mall incidents, maybe the number of fatalities would have been reduced.

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