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.

Emergency personnel gather at the entrance to a subway stop in the Brooklyn borough of New York on April 12, 2022.
Emergency personnel gather at the entrance to a subway stop in the Brooklyn borough of New York on April 12, 2022. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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.

Read, save and share resources

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.

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.

[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.

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.

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.

Are there other resources your department would like when training for and responding to MCIs? Email us at editor@police1.com and we'll continue adding more expert-driven content links.

NEXT: Public safety leaders demonstrate the importance of interagency training

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