During the conference's opening general session, interim Dallas Police Chief David Pughes and Dallas Fire and Rescue Chief David Coatney discussed lessons learned from the July 7 police ambush with the conference's 1,300 attendees.
The Observer followed the conference on Twitter as emergency personnel and other attendees from around the country picked up Pughes' and Coatney's hard-won lessons from last July.
First, Pughes and Coatney offered a chilling timeline of the events on the ground that night.
Dallas Fire Rescue Chief Coatney "in an event like the Dallas Ambush, it doesn't matter what the logo on your coat says...(1/2) #NHSC2017— Daniel Nyquist (@djn80) June 6, 2017
Dallas EMS personnel struggled, Coatney said, because downtown Dallas was still under fire when ambulances arrived. While paramedics refused to leave until they could take wounded officers to the hospital, he said, many officers were to local hospitals in the backs of police cars, showing the importance of maintaining flexibility in chaotic situations.
(2/2)..what matters is how we work together." Speaking of Dallas Fire and Police coordination in response the Dallas Ambush. #NHSC2017— Daniel Nyquist (@djn80) June 6, 2017
Because of the size of the protest, media were already on the ground downtown, too, quickening the stream of inaccurate information about the incident, Pughes said. He stressed the need for the city of Dallas to improve communications between partner agencies, train first responders across disciplines and close gaps in emergency policies, so it is better prepared for potential crises.
#NHSC2017 Chief Pughes Int. Dallas Police Chief says part of issue in identifying shooter was multiple open carry individuals at protest.— Jona (@jona27) June 6, 2017
Dallas Ambush: Media was already on-site because of the protest. In chaos, they were reporting mistaken, inaccurate info. #nhsc2017— Michael Walter (@MichaelMWalter) June 6, 2017
#NHSC2017 Chief Coatney. Areas of improvement: procedures and policies for Civil Disturbance vs Active Shooter— Jona (@jona27) June 6, 2017
After an incident like the ambush, Pughes said, provisions must be made for the long-term mental health of survivors and police officers, including those who weren't at the scene.
#NHSC2017 Chief Coatney areas of improvement: Rapid assessment by EMS to quickly extract patients from perimeter.— Jona (@jona27) June 6, 2017
We need to remember the mental health of LE and survivors of mass casualty incidents. Survivor guilt and PTSD are all concerns #NHSC2017— Michael Walter (@MichaelMWalter) June 6, 2017
#NHSC2017 Chief Pughes after incident be prepared to address mental health of responders. Also those not on duty they'll suffer from guilt— Jona (@jona27) June 6, 2017