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How One County Trains Citizens on What to Do Until Help Arrives

In late September 2018 the sheriff of Bristol County, Mass., directed his Homeland Security Division to attend a new program entitled Until Help Arrives. This was training was being sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and was very well received. This training became a catalyst for a very successful program that Bristol County has embraced.

Let me state that success is measured by the audience feedback and the number of participants that have been certified as completing the program. To date, we have trained over 1,436 people in our program. How did this Division provide training to this number of people in over 75 different training sessions? Doing the math, you will soon realize that we average about 20 people per training session.

How One County Trains Citizens on What to Do Until Help Arrives Homeland Security TodayOne of the main points that FEMA and MEMA stressed in providing the outline for Until Help Arrives was to be sure to use local examples of incidents when possible and be flexible. We have used these two points to ensure that our audiences are attentive, entertained and take the knowledge that we are providing seriously.

How do you get this number of people to give up precious time to attend a two- or three-hour training session? We are becoming salesman starting with a telephone call or e-mail asking to meet the contact person or agency head regarding a new program. This is followed by a meeting in person with the host agency head. During this session a display book with approximately 35 key slides is discussed, and we hand out materials as appropriate and answer any questions.

When the program is accepted by the agency we set up a mutually agreed-upon date and then we check the facility to ensure that it provides a good teaching environment. The agency is responsible for all publicity; we provide examples of the flyers. The agency must provide us with the names of people who register at least two days prior to the start of the event. Our next step is to provide everyone registered with a table tent. People who arrive and have not registered are provided a temporary table tent. This is important and many people comment on the way we personalize our class.

On the day of the training we arrive at least one hour early. This gives us time to ensure that all our handouts are available, the audio-visual setup is working properly, and we go over who is going to cover each section of the program.

When the participants arrive the first that we require is that they check in. They are given an evaluation that will be turned in at the end of the training. In addition they receive four handouts. They include Save a Life (American College of Surgeons), Stop the Bleed (The Committee on Trauma), a copy of the outline Until Help Arrives, and where the CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet) may be purchased.

For those unfamiliar with the program, we start with unit one how people can Make a Difference during an emergency situation; next, we have people respond to incidents and have them Call 911. The third unit is Staying Safe, where we show local incidents in which people have lost their lives at an accident scene. Unit four is extremely important: Stop The Bleed. Each participant is provided a pair of gloves (that they keep) and learn how to correctly put them on and remove them. Also, we pair students to train with the Combat Application Tourniquet. In the next unit, Positioning the Injured, we use audience members to place volunteers in the Tripod and Recovery positions. Providing Comfort allows us to teach people to have compassion and be respectful to injured people. We have added another unit titled Venue Security. This was put in based on our current incidents that have occurred. It includes how to evaluate a facility for exits and security. In addition, when we do high schools we train the students how to react when stopped by the police.

Once the class is complete we have the participants take a 10-question quiz. We then answer the questions and have them take the sheets with them.

The last and final part of the program is collecting the evaluations and handing out the certificates. Each person personally receives the certificate with a congratulations and a handshake.

All class sign-in sheets and evaluations are kept in a permanent file for audit.

Our audiences are varied. If we are doing a Senior Center, two hours is the absolute maximum time that you can schedule. If you are teaching high school students, we like to do a minimum of three hours.

If you need more information or would like to discuss our program you can contact me at davidgavigan@bcso-ma.org.

David W. Gavigan
Col. David Gavigan leads the Homeland Security Division at the Bristol County Sheriff's Office.

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