The students weren’t in school – it was Sunday – so police and paramedics had the hallways all to themselves. The active shooter drill could begin.
Last weekend’s RAMS training – Rapid Assessment Medical Support – was particularly timely: A school shooting occurred in Texas only two days earlier. But the Philadelphia Fire Department has regularly conducted these exercises with the Police Department and other law enforcement agencies since 2013.
“The RAMS program was developed to keep our EMS providers safe as they administer emergency medical care to victims of violence at scenes that police have cleared but not fully secured,” said Dr. Crawford Mechem, medical director of the Fire Department.
About 40 police officers and eight paramedics and EMTs participated in the drill at a local middle school on the first day of National EMS Week. EMS personnel wore protective helmets and vests as police escorted them through the building, stopping to simulate the treatment and rescue of wounded students.
The RAMS teams carry supplies to treat patients suffering from traumatic injuries, including tourniquets, wound dressings, chest decompression needles, and specialized gauze to stop life‐threatening bleeding.
This dynamic response model is designed to get EMS providers to victims as quickly as possible without having to wait for authorities to secure the building.
“By exercising this integrated approach with our police partners, we will give the citizens of Philadelphia the best possible response to these incidents,” said Paramedic Services Chief Christopher Baldini.
Five RAMS drills have been held so far this year, with more scheduled in the coming months. Trainings have also been held at office buildings and at Philadelphia International Airport.