This blog post was provided by Captain Rich Forney, corps officer at The Salvation Army’s Aurora Corps Community Center. He attended a Joint Counterterrorism workshop recently and is sharing his thoughts.
I was blessed to represent the Aurora Salvation Army at the Aurora/Naperville Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop (JCTAWS). It was the 37th workshop since the September 11 terrorist attacks, and welcomed more than 250 participants including mayors, police and fire chiefs, nonprofit organizations, health experts, local sheriffs, EMTs, 911 dispatch staff, city officials, Homeland Security, Counterterrorism, and Department of Justice/FBI. It was a multiple community terrorism response simulation to help identify gaps in services and preparedness.
These trainings are designed to move communities and the United States one step ahead in response rather than reacting to potential threats. Just as those wishing to do us harm are learning from every encounter, we need to be better prepared to respond outside the normal operating procedures in extreme situations.
I was placed in the medical and health response group. It was a privilege to hear from the distinguished individuals from across the U.S. presenting reviews of events (timelines, phone and video) and lessons learned from previous attacks:
- Shooting in San Bernardino, California office
- Shooting in Aurora, Colorado movie theater
- Bombing in London subway tubes
- Bombing at Boston Marathon
- Shooting at Joplin Hospital
- Shooting at Las Vegas concert
- Shooting at Pulse Night Club
The presentations included how blast injuries and mass casualities were treated, and ways to minimize the severity of injuries. The group also addressed existing communication barriers among and between groups, and the prescribed solutions to these problems are encouraging.
So what can we do?
- Learn basic first aid skills to provide immediate care and save lives during an incident.
- Volunteer to be trained and be ready to serve with Disaster Service Teams when called upon to respond. There are free regional trainings for those who will answer this call to serve.
- Report what you see. Many attacks were prevented or perpetrators apprehended because of observant bystanders.
- The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services program is often onsite during the trainings and the incidents to provide care for first responders and survivors. If you’d like to volunteer, sign up for our trainings and be there in the time of need!