The School Shooting
Epidemic
Case Studies:
Virginia Tech Massacre
Blacksburg, VA April 17, 2007
Columbine High School
Littleton, CO
April 20, 1999
Objectives
• Review major school
shooting incidents
• Focus on VA Tech and
Columbine
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EMS/Police Response
Triage and Transport
Community Response
Public Affairs/Media
School Safety
Mental Health
• School shooting in
PLANNING exercises
• RESPONSE
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awareness
develop systems
scene safety
Integration
• MITIGATION
– school procedures
– health care response
– community
Virginia Tech Disaster Day 1
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Questions For Discussion
• What went well with the response to the
disaster? What should be improved?
• What are the key elements of a media
message during and after a disaster? Any
comments about the VA Tech president’s
statements?
•
Where might the primary triage site be for a
school shooting disaster?
School Safety
• Open vs Closed
Campus
• Layout
• Willingness of
systems to report
concerning behavior
• Weapons policies
• Cameras and Metal
Detectors
• Interventions for
high risk students
• Security personnel
• Community risks
Shock and disbelief
turn to anger and blame….
How could we have
known?
What could we have done
differently?
Who is responsible?
School shootings
bring immediate
national attention.
Your scene and
medical facilities
will be flooded with
- Parents and family
- Students and
friends
- Community
- Media
EMS Response
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Notification
Scene control and assessment
Search and rescue
Triage and initial stabilization of victims
Transport to definitive care
DON’T
BECOME A
VICTIM…
…
Responders
are
becoming
targets too.
“Lionizing” of Killers
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Questions for Discussion
• Can school shootings be described as “viral”
or “infectious”?
• What are some warning signs and
demographic factors that characterize
potential school shooters?
• What can be done to counter the cycle of
school shooting violence at the individual
level? The community level?
DEBRIEFING
-Psychological
Impact
-Medical Care
Review
-Systems Review
Psychosocial Issues
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Victim
Bystanders
Parents and Family
School, Healthcare, Police Personnel
Community
Children deal with
becoming
celebrities and
activists as a result
of being victims
and heroes.
Evacuation of Victims and
Hospital Response
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Hospital Response
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Assess for plan activation
Handle convergence phenomenon
Triage and emergent care
Death and donors
Ongoing hospitalization
Debriefing
– Psychological impact
– Medical care and systems
The Convergence
Phenomenon
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Law Enforcement
Parents and Family
Healthcare Personnel
The Media
Spectators
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The incident is
only the beginning.
As more
information is
revealed, there is
more to process
psychologically for
victims and
community.
The community as
victims and as a
support for recovery.
Most students will cope well. Some will not and we need
to find ongoing ways to identify them and provide help
long term.
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Life goes on….
Returning to routine
is important.
Striking a balance is
an ongoing
challenge.
Placing the Blame
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Shooters parents/upbringing
Other students
School officials and policies
School design and safety
Law enforcement
Gun access
Litigation
Lessons Learned
• A school shooting can happen in any community
• Children and adults will respond with ongoing
psychological stress
• Refine multi-casualty response systems to
include school children
• Review and drill school shooting scenarios
• “Let it end here” is a goal
Long Term Impact
• Psychological
– Reminders
– Vulnerability
• Catalyst for change
– Activism
– Frustration
– Remedies
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