Mass casualty incident preparation resources for police officers
Read, save and share these resources to ensure each public safety agency is ready to respond and collaborate while on scene of your next potential MCI
In a recent poll, we asked police agencies if they have conducted interagency mass casualty incident response training in the past year. The results were alarming.
Only 22% of respondents said "yes," while a staggering 74% of respondents selected "no." This lack of preparation is dangerous for all public safety agencies – including police, fire and EMS – as well as the communities they serve. And as we have seen over the years, no agency is immune from this type of high-priority, high-risk call.
For example, earlier this month, New York responders were called to a horrific scene following a shooting on a rush-hour subway train in Brooklyn. A gunman shot and wounded 10 commuters and another 13 were injured in the shooting rampage. Videos showed frightened commuters running from the train as others limped out or collapsed on the ground in a pool of their own blood.
Photos from The Associated Press showed a sea of police, fire and EMS officials on scene. FDNY fire trucks were staged at the entrance to the subway station as reports came in concerning smoke pouring out of the train.
There were also ambulances lined up with more than a handful of stretchers packed and loaded for potential victims. And NYPD patrol cars – including a bomb squad vehicle – were staged, ready to respond to the initial reports of possible bomb devices at the subway station. A police official told The Associated Press it was "a miracle" no one was killed.
One day later, a suspect, 62-year-old Frank James, was arrested and ordered held without bail. New York City Mayor Eric Adams hailed the response of New York's first responders and later promised more subway patrols and proposed increasing anti-crime spending.
Police1's recent webinar, "The first 15 minutes of disaster: Creating order from chaos," tackled this critical subject from a virtual tabletop exercise perspective.
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The webinar, which featured a panel of public safety experts, walked attendees through a scenario to review the steps police, fire and EMS responders must take while working together during a mass casualty incident. And, as discussed during the webinar, what responders do in the first 15 minutes of an MCI is key to the success of the overall unified response.
Experts shared lessons identified not only by the presented scenarios but also from real-life incidents – noting the importance that you can never be too prepared.
[Watch on-demand: The first 15 minutes of disaster: Creating order from chaos]
We are committed to keeping this conversation going. Below, you'll find a collection of Police1 content related to preparing for and responding to an MCI. Read, save and share these resources within your jurisdiction to ensure each public safety agency is ready to respond and collaborate while on scene.
ON-SCENE INCIDENT COMMAND AND MANAGEMENT
The importance of law enforcement embracing the incident command system (ICS) was discussed in-depth during the webinar. Anna McRay, assistant director of emergency management for New Hanover County, N.C., said ICS is a "perishable skill," noting the importance of using it every day in order for it to become second nature. These expert-written articles mirror McRay's sentiment.
Why public safety agencies must train together to improve MCI response: Experts from various public safety disciplines shared first-hand lessons identified from MCIs.
- 8 essential truths about MCI response plans: Reminders that public safety officials need to stick with and execute their plan, not create a new one.
- Why police agencies need to embrace the Incident Command System: Another key reminder that ICS is a powerful system that can help you organize chaos on all scenes.
- Public safety needs an integrated response plan for acts of mass violence: For agencies to be fully prepared, they must have a comprehensive, integrated response and recovery plan with allied emergency responders.
- Why law enforcement needs an incident action plan for every event: Law enforcement must realize it needs a proven program management tool to help agencies coordinate response.
ACTIVE SHOOTER RESPONSE
Our active shooter response content gives law enforcement officials the resources, tactical tips and expert commentary they need for an effective response to an active shooter incident. These articles touch on points related to responding as a solo officer, the importance of proper communication during a mass shooting and more.
Unified Command at active shooter MCIs: Understanding NFPA 3000 recommendations: Julie Downey, fire chief for Davie (Florida) Fire Rescue, takes a deep dive into Unified Command, its common terminology and best practices.
- Why solo-officer active shooter response should be trained: Active shooter incidents create a time problem for innocent victims and the emergency responders trying to save their lives.
- Lessons learned from 7 years of active shooter response training: LEOs must develop fundamental knowledge and skills in tactical operations to credibly address active shooter incidents.
- Minute by minute: How Boulder PD handled the communication response to a mass shooting: Julie Parker speaks with PIO Dionne Waugh about the media communications surrounding a mass shooting that claimed the life of 10, including Officer Eric Talley.
- Active shooter response considerations: Advice from the front line of the Aurora theatre shooting: The incident was not only deadly, but it was also tactically eye-opening.
[RELATED: Police1 webinar Q&A: Panelists discuss 5 MCI response considerations]
PLANNING FOR CIVIL UNREST
Police1 columnist Lt. Dan Marcou said it best when discussing large-scale disturbances such as civil unrest: If we don't learn from history, we're bound to repeat it. Here are a variety of resources to remember for preventing or responding to a disturbance.
12 things every police department's civil unrest plan needs: Failure to plan is planning to fail, and that's glaringly evident when large-scale civil unrest breaks out.
- 16 police tactics for crowd control during modern demonstrations: Police departments must prepare to use proven team tactics for crowd control to ensure demonstrations remain peaceful and lawful assemblies.
- A 15-point plan to prevent or survive a large disturbance: Be cognizant of what is working – and what is not – and be flexible enough to change tactics quickly as needed.
- Organizational challenges facing law enforcement: Social unrest: Agencies from small to large faced the challenge of how to allow for the freedom of speech and protests, while maintaining the peace and protecting the rights of all involved.
- Be tactically proactive not just reactive: Follow this philosophy whether responding to a riot or supporting a search warrant.
- Why every PD needs a PACE plan in place before the next protest: There are many management considerations for police response to protests, demonstrations and riots.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND TRAINING
"Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect." Sound familiar? Vince Lombardi, who was once head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers, saw more success than most NFL coaches because of this mindset. Read the articles below to prepare and train for any emergency you may respond to throughout your career.
Collaboration is key to preparing for public safety missions: Interagency planning, training and exercises are critical components of response actions.
- Mistaken assumptions and lessons learned during rescue task force training: First responders need to open lines of communication and share knowledge, experience and resources so we can coalesce our assets.
- Address the vulnerabilities in your backyard: Terrorism preparedness for rural agencies: Terrorists need three things to be able to act: intention, capability and opportunity. And those can all be interrupted by vigilant policing.
- Virtual training tool allows first responders to train across jurisdictions, disciplines: A free virtual training tool allows first responders from different disciplines to train together for critical incidents.
- Is your agency ready for the golden hour of a disaster?: Constructing a sound disaster response plan ahead of an event is key.
LEARN FROM THE GOOD AND THE BAD
Law enforcement agencies cannot be reactive – they must be proactive. Learning from a past incident and applying those lessons identified in training will improve your department's future response. Use these resources below to learn from agencies' past lessons to eliminate future recurrences.
The importance of after-action reviews in informing future responses to major incidents: When planning your department's response to major events, it makes sense to learn from both best practices and lessons identified from response to previous events.
- Ferguson after-action report: Have lessons learned been applied: The first step to applying and implementing the lessons learned of an after-action report is to read the report, which unfortunately rarely happens.
- 3 simple questions that a police department's after-action report must answer: Jerry Hammernick, who served as fire chief of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, once said: "Smart people learn from their mistakes, a genius learns from other people's mistakes."
- The AAR: An effective assessment tool for police: The After-Action Review is an extremely effective method of analyzing what occurred and how to improve performance in the future.
- 6 strategies to prevent tragedies: Find out how police departments can learn from past incidents to take safer steps forward.
Are there other resources your department would like when training for and responding to MCIs? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll continue adding more expert-driven content links.
NEXT: Public safety leaders demonstrate the importance of interagency training
- Active Shooter
- Active Shooter Response
- Command Staff - Chiefs / Sheriffs
- Disaster Response
- Emergency Communication
- Incident Command
- Incident Management
- Mass Casualty Incidents
- Mass Emergency Response
- Officer Safety
- Patrol Issues
- Police1 Webinars & Digital Events
- Police Trainers
- Police Training
- Public Safety
- Tactical EMS / TEMS