ISIS Inspired Nightclub Shooting In Orlando Is The Worst Mass Shooting In United States History
Will America ever be safe again after Omar Saddiqui Manteen’s ISIS inspired nightclub shooting? In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, twenty-nine-year-old Omar Saddiqui Mateen entered the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida and opened fire with his recently legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle.
Before being neutralized by police, he carried out the worst mass shooting in United States history with 49 people dead and another 53 seriously injured. In what was a well-planned attack, Mateen also carried a one handgun and a suspicious device on his body. He apparently walked into the club unchallenged.
Sadly, Omar Mateen was another “known” wolf. An American citizen, the son of Afghani immigrants, Mateen was on the FBI’s radar in 2013 due to suspicious co-workers. They opened an investigation on him and a second in 2014. However, the case was closed due to a lack of evidence of any terroristic activities. In 2016, he declared his allegiance to ISIS, but was not on law enforcement’s radar. His father was a Taliban sympathizer with YouTube videos and online posts to that effect. Mateen had both a concealed carry license and a security officer license, and was employed as a security guard G4S, screening visitors at the Port St. Lucie courthouse. His ex-wife stated he used to regularly abuse her, although it is not known if she reported this activity to law enforcement.
ISIS sounded the alarm in the weeks prior to the shooting. On May 21st, Islamic State accounts on Twitter distributed a warning from the spokesman of Islamic State, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. The message was a call-to-action for ISIS followers to launch attacks on the United States and Europe during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began in early June. “Get prepared, be ready … to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers … especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America.” Al-Adnani further suggesting attacks on military and civilian targets. Three days before the Orlando attack, ISIS released a “kill list” to their followers with the personal information of 8,000 Americans, including at least 800 from Florida’s Atlantic coast. The FBI was still working on the kill list issue when the nightclub shooting took place.
As we look to try and get better prepared for horrific events such as these, we must look at the entire effect an event of this magnitude has on the “Whole of the Community”
Police, Fire- EMS and the hospitals are all firsthand recipients of the aftermath of the tragedy, (allegedly purported to have been carried out by one lone offender)
EMS and fire department responses to these horrific incidents require a vastly different approach than utilized on a daily basis. The complexity is increased with the variations in EMS delivery nationwide. These range from strictly fire-based to private providers. In any case responses need to be based on extensive planning and exercises to develop the tactical coordination required. Application of routine standard operating procedures will be inadequate to manage the number of patients, severity of wounds and an evolving scene. Responders will need to focus on the most severely injured based on rapid triage assessments. “Shopping for reds” will require bypassing patients with less severe injuries in order to address hemorrhage in viable victims.
Coordinating with law enforcement will require determination of the tactics to be utilized. Rescue Task Force (RTF) concepts have become common but even they have variations. In some models ballistic protected EMS providers accompany police officers into hot zones to remove victims. In other variations the scene is divided into hot, warm and cold zone designations with the threat located in the hot zone. The warm zone has been cleared for immediate threats allowing EMS and fire to enter under protection from officers. No matter what model a jurisdiction chooses to follow, extensive planning and exercising is required. A plan without exercise is just a theory. Moving theory to operational capability can begin with a table top and advance to a full scale exercise. Utilization of HSEEP framework is critical to ensure the maximum benefit is realized of the collaborative efforts.
The entire local or regional medical system will be stressed as patients begin to be transported. Notification of events and estimates of victims is essential to allow ER’s to implement Triage and Disaster plans. Notification through on scene commanders allows adjustments to be made at hospitals to the extent that routine care patients can be relocated to urgent care or other facilities. Stresses placed on the health care system is likely to last for days beyond the initial event as medical personnel are providing critical care for severely injured. Public safety agencies need to include the health care providers in the planning and exercise cycle.
After incident care for responders and others professional involved in the incident has to be considered. Professionally conducted Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) should be conducted for all responders, hospital personnel and telecommunication operators involved. With a general rise in responder suicides and other conditions, providing care is critical. Monitoring sick leave use and other trends should be conducted post incident in a non-punitive manner. Personnel affected may attempt to cope by increasing sick time usage or other methods to minimize potential post incident personal survival methods.
EMS and Fire will be required to search for victims as the scenes is rendered safe, and they must begin the horrific task of triage and transport of those injured after given the “ all clear” by appropriate law enforcement officials on the scene.
The task of looking for viable victims in the “Red tag” category may go on for hours, looking for those that can be safely evacuated.
The Hospital systems must go into ‘TRAIGE and DISASTER” Mode immediately.
Cancelling all elective hospital events and moving out the daily Emergency room visits to the those mortally injured. This puts pressure on the entire public health care system.
Hospitals must invoke Triage and DISASTER CODES.
The effects of one event such as this can bring the community healthcare to a very fragile breaking point. Ancillary services must be moved and patient care in the urgent situation may be compromised due to the sheer number of presenting patients. ER Staff, X-ray staff and the physicians required to care for this large influx of victims is certainly an overwhelming event. Think of ALL of the hospital services that will be impacted, to name a few.
Medical Surge Nursing Pastoral Pharmacy Radiology
Housekeeping (as the rooms must be cleaned up rapidly to move the next victim in) Transportation (Internal & external)
The entire community is affected by this event, and the need to move to a recovery mode is extremely urgent.
This was a horrific event, but not shocking. The world we live in has become extremely fragile, and we are sitting on a powder keg that could ignite at any moment.
Our first responder community will be forced to face this type of event again and again. The magnitude of what a lone perpetrator can do is astounding.
Law Enforcement will be faced with a daunting task, clearing the scene of assailants so that the Medical and rescue staff can enter. Law Enforcement can no longer stand by and wait precious moments to engage, while assembling a SWAT type operation. The first due officers are totally engaged in the firefight and in an attempt to neutralize the assailant(s).
The hard work of Victim Identification, clearing the scene for booby traps and getting the scene ready for removal of the victims is intense. The teams of Fire, Law Enforcement and the medical community must be totally coordinated and cooperative in the recovery operations. Response MUST be practiced and planned for, as the event may go down very quickly. If a Hostage situation ensues, then it will be a timed, planned response as was shown in Orlando on June 12, 2016.
In an incident such as this, the Emergency Manager must keep his focus on the “big picture”. Although this is a law enforcement / homeland security situation, there are many “moving parts” that cannot be lost in the shuffle. These may include consistent messaging to the media and the public, rumor control, handling victims’ family inquiries, managing mutual aid resources, cost and resource tracking in case there is a financial reimbursement stream (many communities cannot afford the cost of resources needed to handle such an incident), managing medical surge capacity, handling of potential volunteers and donations, and providing psychological and counseling needs for victims and first responders. These are a few of the areas the need to be kept “on the radar” of the Emergency Manager as he helps to lead community recovery efforts. The Emergency Manager must lead the jurisdiction’s tactical and strategical planning of such situations that may not be directly part of the law enforcement efforts in such an incident.
Strategically, if these items are not handled effectively, the community runs the risk of affecting its “brand” and reputation. In this case, Orlando depends on tourism as an element of the City, and Orange County, Florida’s, economy. Negative publicity associated with an incident, such as the June 12, 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub, could affect not only the economy, but also the reputation of the City as a “tourist-friendly destination”.
The Emergency Manager must think of him / herself as a “symphony conductor”, whereas the conductor can see the “big picture”, yet may not have the expertise to handle all of the moving parts. He / she must manage all of the subject matter experts to reach the community goals of an efficient and effective “piece of music”, or recovery. Accomplishing this task, whether it be this incident or any future incident, will assist the community in returning to a sense of normalcy, despite what an enemy may try to accomplish through terroristic threats or events.
5 Things To Remember
1. Mass public attacks require a coordinated response. There is no room for politics, egos or turf wars across response disciplines.
2. Assessment of soft targets in the community is critical for protecting people. You can’t protect what you don’t know.
3. Planning should be based off risk and not fear. A mediocre plan today is better than a perfect one next week.
4. Start slow and turn up the heat on multi-discipline and jurisdictional exercises. Don’t just check the box, practice like you will work in the street.
5. Work to increase public capability to provide immediate care before responders arrive.
A new response reality has emerged. Public safety agencies need to recognize and accept this reality and commit to evolve.
Planning, Preparation, Practice are the keys to survival.
Mike Fagel, Jennie Hesterman, ASIS School Safety and Security Council
Greg Benson, ASIS Presenter 2016 Orlando