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St. Mary’s Active Shooter Seminar Seeks to Save Lives

On Tuesday, February 4, members of the Jewish community in Bergen County and surrounding areas gathered at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic to hear a seminar on the topic of active shooters. With opening statements from George Matyjewicz—a community outreach consultant at St. Mary’s—and the key address from speaker Jim Bradley—a former Philadelphia police officer and educator of how to survive active shooter attacks, a discussion was had on what to do if, God forbid, one is faced with such a situation. Topics addressed included how to effectively create and use a tourniquet, how to create barricades, and most importantly: how a civilian should never attempt to confront the shooter. An additional, equally important, topic touched on was how people don’t realize they are in an active shooter situation and waste key time before moving to safety. Attendees were encouraged to ask questions and continue the conversation at home.

Active shooter situations have tragically been on the rise in recent months and years. In 2019, there were over 400 mass shootings and over 15,000 gun deaths, which have been attributed to homicides, suicides and accidents. St. Mary’s is hoping that by addressing the topic and sharing ways a person can increase their odds of survival, they will be better equipped to handle such a situation if they are unfortunately forced into such a position.

“I can’t stop someone from coming in anywhere and being an active shooter,” Bradley shared. “But I can give you enough education that may save somebody’s life at some point. When I wrote this program, I wanted it to be not some guy in a suit, but a person just like you who needs to know something, something that could save your life. So if I save one person, I look at it as I did my job.”

Bradley worked in narcotics with the Philadelphia police department before retiring. Over the course of his career as a police officer, he trained in handling active shooter situations, and during his speech he shared his insight and stressed the importance of not wasting time during a suspected attack. Using an example from the Las Vegas shooting, he showed how people can misinterpret gunfire as fireworks instead of an imminent threat to their lives.

“The Las Vegas shooting actually lasted less than 10 minutes,“ Bradley continued. “Now if you’re involved [in a shooting], it’s going to feel like three days. Time slows down when these incidents happen. Globally, the U.S. has the most active shooter events than any other nation in the world. From 2000 to 2015 there were 192 active shooters. From 2015 to today it doubled.”

The presentation was informative and eye-opening. For Matyjewicz, it highlighted the need for improved active shooter training and response.

“Sadly, there is a desperate need for active shooter training with what is going on in our shuls and schools,” Matyjewicz shared. “To add to that, we need to be able to aid the wounded, if, chas v’shalom, a shooter does enter our premises. What surprised me most [about the presentation] was that schools have monthly fire drills, yet they may not have active shooter drills. The last major fire in a school that killed 10 or more people was in 1956! I’m not saying to eliminate fire drills, rather add active shooter drills and teach how to stop the bleeding. A tourniquet applied promptly or stuffing the wound where a tourniquet cannot be applied can save a life by preventing the person from bleeding out.”

In addition to their seminars, St. Mary’s has been working hard to make improvements to better accommodate their Jewish patients. These include accommodations for entering and exiting the building on Shabbat and Yom Tov, working closely with Hatzalah ambulances, and a specifically designated Shabbat room for families of patients to stay in. Their staff has also been trained to be aware of Shabbat obligations. To learn more about St. Mary’s hospital and their offerings, please visit https://www.smh-nj.com.

Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at www.adamssoapbox.com

By Adam Samuel

 

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