“911, what is the nature of your emergen…” The operator is brutally cut off by the painful sound of gunfire in her earpiece. A female voice frantically screams, “They’re shooting at the kids in the cafeteria, they…” the line goes dead.
Over the next several minutes, the 911 call center receives further scattered reports that the local high school is under attack. Two masked gunmen have been seen making their way into separate classroom areas of the school with hostages.
What do you do? Where do you go to make the most tactically sound entrance? More importantly, what weapons and gear do you take into such an engagement? Shotguns have no business being deployed in such a densely occupied environment. The collateral damage from one misplaced shot would be catastrophic. If you’re lucky, your agency will have issued you an AR-15 or at least given you the option to purchase one for duty. Let’s just move forward from this point and trust that we’re all on the same page and have an AR in the trunk. If you don’t have one, you’d better start pushing for one.
Alright, you have your AR, now what? How about a ballistic helmet? The concerns most often voiced about them are; they’re too heavy, and they make your head sweat. That’s correct on both counts. However, a little sweating is better than a bullet in the head. Even if you’re just grazed you’ll be lucky to be able to see straight, much less stay in the fight. Ballistic helmets are everywhere on the web, so who’s do you trust? The answer is simple: BlackHawk. Their line of Kevlar MICH helmets are top notch. They’re designed with a measure of space between you and the inner helmet wall thus allowing the bullet/projectile to come to a stop without actually causing you “dain bramage.”
You’re good to go. You’ve got your AR and helmet…just a minute, how about your first aid needs? Remember that everybody is counting on you, so if you’re downed in the fight, all is lost. Packing a personal trauma kit with blood clotting agent is a big must. When I say “trauma kit” I don’t mean cheap vinyl gloves, band-aids, handy wipes, and antiseptic cream. That is what is called a “First Aid Kit,” and you and I already have one of those raggedy things in our patrol car, don’t we? “Trauma Kit” for the first-responder officer means just a few basic things, sterile rubber gloves, QuikClot, medical scissors, and pressure bandages. If you’re CPR certified an Ambu-Bag or face shield is in order as well.
If you’re facing a gushing, arterial bleed where normal pressure alone won’t get it done, QuikClot will more than handle it. No, you’re not expected to start intubating people and running chest tubes and all that jazz. In fact, if you act out of your scope of training, I promise you that the Monday morning quarterbacks will getcha’. Here is our mantra as LE-First Responders: “I’m a Cop, not an EMT.” remember that.
It’s the loss of crucial moments that costs lives when a severe injury is sustained and the medics can’t get to the downed subject in time. With the QuikClot Combat Gauze all you do is pack it into the wound, apply pressure, and wrap the wound with a pressure bandage…Hasta lasagna, don’t get any on ya!
On The Scene
Now, you’ve got your gear in order, so in you go. Upon entry through an obscure service door, you immediately come across a boy bleeding badly from the inside of his left leg. You quickly pull him outside to tend to his wounds. He’s desperately trying to hang on to consciousness, but is losing that fight. The trail behind him tells you that he came from the cafeteria dining area, and the growing mess tells you that he doesn’t have much time left. The blood is bright red and pungent in odor…femoral artery! Luckily you’re prepared to deal with it. You stop the bleeding with a QuikClot, Combat Gauze, and tuck him in a corner. You then pick up your AR and remind yourself, “I’m a Cop not an EMT…keep moving, you have lives to save!”
You hear the subject close by, ranting and raving in a darkened room full of kids and teachers. Your team of three has him cordoned off in a room, a darkened room at that. He turned off the lights so you couldn’t get a fix on him, but in the process of doing so he made himself vulnerable to flash grenades. Now would be a good time to breach-bang-and-clear, wouldn’t it? The problem is that you don’t have flash bangs or anything of the sort. “You’re not SWAT so you don’t need them.” We’ve all heard that one before haven’t we…so tell me again, if I’m not “SWAT” why am I holding an AR-15?
So now what? You’ll need something with which to distract the shooters attention while your back-up officers tag the bad guy. One device that you can use is a handful of Brite Strike, RID 3 Devices. RID 3 are small, black plastic balls with a clear lens and a flashlight type reflective internal surface. They’re about the size of a medium “jawbreaker” and are weighted so as to come to rest with the dual LED light source pointing upwards. They come in packs of three in a flip-top, nylon holder, and are quite the light show. The idea is that you take a handful of RID 3s and throw or roll them into a room thus attracting the subject’s attention, and buying you that one or two seconds “Oh, crap!” reaction so as to acquire a shot.
“Flash out!” Your team stands-to, as a handful of RID 3 devices fly through the air. Time slows as you commit yourself and follow your mates into the “fatal funnel.” Your vision tunnels as muzzle-flashes light the room, and the subject splays across the floor spilling his weapons. He momentarily writhes in agony from the multiple hits to his chest and neck, and you mentally repeat your mantra. He finally goes limp as you notice the smoking pistol lying at his side, and the pinned grenades that tumbled from his hands. Your breathing scrapes through your ears as you stare in disbelief at the sight before you. There are multiple wounded in the room and empty casings all about. “This guy was the real deal!” You’re drowning in your own breath as the adrenaline races. Your vision is still tunneled in as you scan the hostages, looking for that one face that doesn’t quite fit. Be wary of wolves in sheep’s clothing. You quickly move about because you know that there’s a second shooter somewhere in the building. Is he here in disguise? You glance at your magazine as you look away from the explosive wounds of the downed subject, his jacket now drenched in a gout of crimson. You’re not sure how many rounds you’ve fired but can clearly see that you need a magazine swap.
This level of “clarity” is only possible with a “windowed” PMAG. The Magpul, PMAG is a magazine that far exceeds anything in the world to date, and is abuse resistant to the extreme. Magpul engineered the structure of the PMAG so as to inhibit spring fatigue, follower tilt, and damage due to long term loaded storage. PMAG also has a pop-off storage cover that does multiple duty as an anti-debris cover, and top round protector. The cap also removes all the pressure from the feed lips, which is what causes rounds to “creep” thus causing malfunctions.
You quickly swap out the partial magazine for a fresh one that you’ve drawn from the magazine pouch of your BlackHawk Omega Elite Tactical Vest. As your mind goes back to the day that you bought this vest, you laugh off the notion that you had then “I’ll never use this thing.” Tactical vests are the catchall devices in LE work and are a crucial part of your ready bag. “Chance favors the prepared mind,” so be ready.
Just as you prepare to move out, you hear over the radio that the second team of officers has the other shooter in custody. “Did you hear that?” you say to your fellow officers. “Clear on it!” your mates answer as they pull their ear plugs out.
Earplugs are one piece of gear that are so often overlooked for this sort of thing. The sound of an AR going off in a CQB environment sounds like a bomb. It can cause permanent hearing damage in the long run, however the immediate problem is here and now. The ears aim the eyes, the eyes aim the hands. When an AR is fired in a CQB environment the sound reverberates off the walls around you and pounds your inner ear with a pressure wave that causes extreme disorientation. If your AR deafens you in a gunfight, you’re blind i.e. you’re dead.
Ear plugs of the $1.50 kind will suffice for this sort of thing. If you take and drop ear protection along with a basic pair of safety glasses into one of the multiple pockets on your tactical vest you won’t have to think about it on the run. It also cuts down on how much gear has to come out of the trunk.
As you finish tending to the wounds of another student you hear over the radio “Building is secure, medics move in.” As you reach up to remove your helmet your finger brushes across a warm lump an inch from its brim…dead center. “Whoa!” You’re staring at a .45 caliber slug fired by that bloody mess on the floor. You realize that he got one off at your head before he went down. “Lucky punk!” your friend says to you as he claps you on the shoulder bringing you back to reality. “Come on, let’s go.”
Thumbs up go around the room and you start collecting up your gear, that’s right, your gear. Because you planned properly and sucked up the out of pocket cost for proper equipment, you were prepared to survive this call-out unscathed.
As cops we’re constantly faced with equipment that’s “hit or miss.” Unfortunately we either have to go without, hoping that the worst doesn’t happen or we spend hard earned money on top notch gear that’ll be there when we need it. We all know cops who’ll go out and plunk down a bundle on their Harley and riding gear, but won’t spend a dime on specialty duty gear. What’s your life worth man? Spend that money on quality gear today and live to ride your Harley tomorrow. If you don’t, your wife will sell that Hog when you’re gone. Dude, that’s just wrong!