Faster First-Responders

By Jeff Knox

(May 30, 2017) The first rule of first-aid is “Stop the Bleeding.”  When the bleeding is from a gunshot wound, effectively stopping the bleeding can require advanced tools and training.  Adding to the complications of first-aid for shooting victims is the possibility that the person who shot them might not be finished.  In order to effectively stop the bleeding in a mass-shooting attack, the first step in stopping the bleeding, is to stop the cause of the bleeding – Stop the Attack!

No one should argue that providing some teachers or other school staff with the tools and training needed to be more effective in treating serious wounds while they are waiting for trained medical professionals to arrive.  Why then is it so controversial to suggest that teachers and administrators should receive advanced training to help them be more effective at stopping a violent attacker?

We all understand that the odds of a terrorist or other rampage murderer striking at any particular school are pretty slim, but so are the odds of a particular driver being in a major wreck, or a particular home experiencing a catastrophic fire.  Just because odds are slim, is no reason to avoid being prepared for the worst. Having a fire extinguisher in your kitchen is not a sign of paranoia, and neither is having personnel trained and equipped to stop an armed attacker.

Many schools have an armed officer on campus, either an on-duty police officer, or a paid security guard, so that an armed response can normally be counted on within a few seconds of a serious threat becoming apparent.  Other schools depend on local police to respond to serious incidents, extending response times from seconds to a few minutes. But for some schools, response times for police, fire, and medical emergencies can be between 10 minutes and a half-hour.  For these schools in particular, it is critical that there be personnel on site who are trained and equipped to take immediate action in case of a serious emergency.

That’s why FASTER was developed.  FASTER is an acronym for Faculty/Administration Safety Training and Emergency Response.  It was developed by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation and Tactical Defense Institute in Ohio, with the objective of helping schools, police, and medical professionals respond faster and more effectively in emergencies, from minor incidents to worst-case events.

In today’s world, a worst-case event would be a terrorist, or other homicidal maniac, going on a shooting rampage in the school.  In that sort of situation, seconds mean lives, and any response time measured in minutes is much too long. For this reason, many states provide schools with the option of authorizing some designated staff members to be armed on campus.  The FASTER program is intended to provide these designated personnel with advanced training to help accomplish three key things:

      1. Stop the Threat Faster
      2. Treat the Wounded Faster
      3. Get Professional Assistance Faster

Police, firefighters, and paramedics, are rarely the first to respond to any emergency.  The true first-responders are almost always the people who happen to be present when the event starts, often the victims themselves, or close bystanders.  When it comes to an emergency situation in a school – any emergency – the first-responders are almost always school staff, or students. If someone cuts off a finger in wood shop, spills acid in chemistry class, or falls off the monkey-bars on the playground, it is usually a fellow student or nearby teacher who renders initial aid.

In tragedies like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook, people died because qualified medical help couldn’t get to them in time.  The people who were present and responded first, didn’t have the equipment or training needed to save those lives. And of course, the response of the trained professionals was delayed by the continued threat posed by the attacker.  FASTER is intended to help close that gap and save lives.

Colorado is one of the states that doesn’t blindly – and irrationally – prohibit all school staff from having access to effective defensive tools.  Many Colorado schools, especially rural schools, where emergency response would be slowest, already have staff members authorized to be armed. The better trained these staff members are, the more effective they will be in an emergency.  That’s why a group called Coloradans for Individual Rights is bringing the FASTER program to the state.

Colorado’s first FASTER workshop is scheduled for June 20 through the 22nd, and is open to school staff from all over the state.  The workshop will be held in Weld County, and the tuition is set at $1000 per person.  Scholarships are being offered through the Independence Institute, and lodging assistance is also available.  To participate, students must be employed by a school in Colorado, must have a valid Colorado Concealed Handgun Permit, and those already designated by their school administration or local board as “Security Officers” are given priority placement.  Faculty and staff from across the state are invited to apply, but space is limited and the deadline is approaching fast.

To find out more about FASTER training in Colorado, or to apply for the workshop, visit the Coloradans for Civil Liberties website.  If you’d like to help fund this important work, go to