As our nation grapples with increasing school safety concerns, one area where we can exert control is response training. Beyond first responders, school educators and staff can benefit from training in response to school bombing incidents. In the space between the moment an explosive event occurs and the arrival of emergency responders on the scene, an opportunity exists for school personnel to engage in critical, lifesaving actions.
While New Mexico Tech (NMT)/EMRTC Training's current Understanding and Planning for School Bombing Incidents (UPSBI) course geared towards school administrators focuses on school emergency management plans, warning signs, and critical response actions for school bombing threats, participants often comment in their post course evaluations the desire for more hands-on instruction.
NMT/EMRTC Training's new Surviving Bombing Incidents for Educators (SBIE) course, developed in 2020 while the pandemic suspended some training activities, will further prepare school personnel (E.g. teachers, administrators, staff members) for the actions required to render aid to those wounded during a school bombing incident prior to the arrival of first responders.
A needs assessment survey sent to school districts throughout the US (456 respondents included administrators, teachers, and staff) revealed 75% of respondents’ answers reflect they are not prepared to effectively respond in the event of a school bombing or explosion. Further, 91% of respondents said they would be willing to help the vulnerable and injured if they had this training.
Opportunities that include performance-based training in the application of life-saving first aid skills are generally not available to members of a school staff. While multiple courses exist to prepare first responders to respond to blast effects, educators and school staff are not the target audience for these training opportunities. Civilian training courses focused on teaching individuals lifesaving first aid skills exist as well; however, these courses do not specifically address injuries unique to explosive events. To fill this gap, NMT/EMRTC Training put together a team to develop the SBIE course.
Subject Matter Expert and Course Instructor Carlos Gallegos, who is also a Bomb Technician, EMT-Basic, and C-TECC instructor, joined experts including firefighter paramedics, a former educator, curriculum writing experts, and graphic designer, to develop the course. He is excited about the course, pointing out, “I think it will be very beneficial to our schools.” A teacher from New York who participated in the course praised the course materials, noting the simple step-by-step instructions in conjunction with the pictures showing how to perform these tasks, made the content easy to follow. “Practical exercises allowed us to demonstrate what we learned. It reinforced the lessons. All parts were valuable.” Another pilot participant who is an administrator and a police officer shared noted on his post-course evaluation “the content was perfect” and “beneficial for a school setting.”
In addition to learning how to recognize the different effects of an explosion and the proper actions to take to avoid disturbing remaining explosives, SBIE course participants are taught methods to isolate individuals from explosive devices. They also learn the different categories of blast injuries. Hands-on content includes instruction on proper application of tourniquets, wound packing, chest seals, and airway management. Students practice these skills on training mannequins. NMT/EMRTC Training is currently continuing to pilot the course in preparation for a FEMA review, with the goal of receiving certification by September.