The importance of giving a Safety Briefing and developing an Emergency Procedures Plan for your courses.

Last year while teaching a Counter Ambush course to a mixed class of Law Enforcement Officers and Licensed Security Guards, one of my students, a forty-seven (47) year old male experienced a myocardial infarction, that is the medical term for a heart attack. When I spoke with him last week he got on me a little for not posting this blog and talking about this very important topic, he has long since returned to full-duty and is doing very well.

Let me give you a little background, a little over a month prior to that particular course I purchased a Phillips HeartStart OnSite Automated External Defibrillator or AED like the one in the link above. This had been something I was wanting to do for a year or so before and in my opinion, it is an essential piece of equipment for any firearms instructor obviously along with a well-stocked trauma bag/medical kit.

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On the day of the event, I had given a safety briefing and knew that I had a Paramedic and two EMT’s in the course. Knowing that made it easy for me to volunteer them to act in case of a medical emergency. All three had brought their personal trauma bags, but none had an AED with them. Just so you know, they all carry an AED in their vehicles now.

Let us start with the outline of a good safety briefing. The National Rifle Association recommends that each safety briefing should encompass the following:

  • The purpose of the shooting event/Introduction of Range Personnel
  • Range layout and limits
  • Range safety rules
  • Firing line commands
  • Emergency Procedures

In these items, there are plenty of subcategories that we can get into, for the purposes of this blog posting I am only going to focus on Emergency Procedures.

Since I teach a wide variety of curriculum mostly my own, I have had to develop my own set of emergency procedures that are able to be modified to meet the needs of the various venues where I teach throughout the country. One very important thing to remember is that your emergency procedures plan must comply with any local range rules and standard operating procedures on dealing with such incidents. This is precisely why communication with your course host and or the range owners and operators is so important.

Take a look at this short video by Ken Hackathorn, “Prerequisites for Taking Your Training Classes on the Road.” In this video, Ken addresses the safety briefing for traveling instructors; however, it applies just as well to those instructors who teach at their home club or local public range.

Diving a little deeper, with each and every course that I teach, one person is designated as a primary and one as a backup for key roles in the event that we need to initiate the emergency procedures plan, these key roles are listed below:

  • Emergency Medic
  • Trauma/Medical Bag Runner
  • A person to take charge of the firing line making sure all firearms are secured and also to keep everyone away from crowding the person being treated.
  • A person to call 9-1-1 with a script and physical location memorized.
  • A person to meet Emergency Services and Law Enforcement at the entrance to the range complex and lead them to the location of the emergency.
  • A person to take notes. Provide this person with a notebook and pen that should be kept near the trauma/medical bag. This person should have good penmanship, you’ll thank me later for that small piece of advice.
  • A person to inform range control or anyone else on-site that we have an emergency and have called 9-1-1. (Many ranges that I train at are a part of a larger complex with a central range operations office and some have absolutely nothing, it is up to you to have a plan)

Now I know what you are thinking, what if I am doing a one-on-one coaching session or teaching a course that only has four or five students? That’s easy, you must modify your plan to cover that possibility.

Once you have laid out your emergency procedures plan, you need to take the time to let your designated medic get familiar with your trauma/medical bag and its contents and then you should coach the others on what you expect them to do in performing their roles and answer any questions from them before you start any live fire exercises.

As a suggestion, I like to use the back of a target to write down everyone’s name and assignment along with the physical location of the range. See the example below from a recent course that I taught at my local gun club, this was a sixteen person course and as you see I needed thirteen volunteers plus myself. I also assigned my assistant instructors roles to help out as well because of their inside knowledge of the facility and local range rules.

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It is important to note that more often than not I will assign myself the task of making the 9-1-1 call, I know many of the questions that they will be asking and have a prepared script, but not always do I do this because some facilities I train at have their own procedures to follow.

Remember that no two facilities operate the same and some will want you to follow their emergency procedures plan in accordance with their range standard operating procedures so, make sure your responsibilities are understood well in advance of the course and if you are in a remote location you should also plan to have a helipad set up in case you need it, ask me how I know to plan for this… Yep, I have seen someone evacuated from a range with an injury (Compound fracture of the tibia) via helicopter.

I also recommend that when you give your safety briefing it should be done in full view of the range and not inside a classroom. One thing I do when teaching a multiple-day course is to revisit the briefing each day and make sure that everyone reaffirms that they are still capable of performing their designated roles in the event of an emergency.

In executing an emergency procedures plan you must first determine if the emergency is one that requires a call to 9-1-1 and possible transport. Some trainers get into the mindset that the only emergency they might experience on the range is to have a student with a self-inflicted gunshot wound or worse someone else gets shot negligently or accidentally, you decide on which word to use. Truthfully, that is one of the least likely of scenarios; however, it is one that must be planned for and one must be prepared for, but candidly, you are more likely to see anything from snake bites to twisted ankles and even heat casualties.

Speaking of heat casualties, you should also have some crushable ice packs on hand during the summer months, you can find them at your local CVS or Walgreens pharmacy. A substitute would be to use some ziplock bags and bring a bag of ice for your cooler with cold drinks. Another thing is to have a supply of sports drinks, e.g. Powerade or Gatorade not just for yourself, but an emergency stash as well.

Other things that I recommend you have in a separate bag is a variety of pain relievers, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and other NSAID’s, e.g., Tylenol or Aleve and don’t forget Benedryl in both liquid and capsules for allergic reactions to anything from an insect bite to a brush with poison ivy.

Additionally, make sure that you have a “Boo-Boo Kit” with a variety of band-aids, alcohol swabs, and things like Neosporin and a small bottle of liquid skin for cuts and blisters is a good thing to have as well. When I teach locally or within driving distance, I also bring an assortment of bug spray and sunscreen, this is invaluable and I find that even though it is in a list of suggested items for students to bring it is usually the one thing they most often forget.

It is worthy to note that myself and many other trainers are requiring both assistant instructors and students to have a belt mounted tourniquet on them during their courses and some including myself have been including a block of instruction in each course on the proper application of a tourniquet; however, this is not standard in the industry, at least yet anyway.

In summary, being prepared saved the life of my student who experienced a heart attack, as an instructor you should be asking yourself right now if you are prepared for the same or worse. It’s not enough to have the equipment, you also need training in basic first aid procedures, so go and get some training, I can refer you to several companies that do basic first aid/CPR certifications and even those that teach the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (T.C.C.C.) courses as well.

Thanks for checking in, and until next time, be vigilant, be the best and as always, live life abundantly.

Train hard so you can fight easy!

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The Trigger Control Dot Org 2018 Year in Review!

Over the past few days compiling the information for this posting from my various calendars, I have had time to reflect on where 2018 has taken me and my little training company, and of course how much I appreciate those who supported my company as well.

2018 started off with teaching commitments here in Florida and North Carolina then a trip to Las Vegas for SHOT Show where I was lucky enough to avoid “Patient Zero” and the very real “SHOT Show Crud.” However, not being accustomed to the dry desert heat that is Las Vegas I left with a dry scratchy throat that took a few days to get over.

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Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to my good friend “Tactical Ed” better known as the “Tactical Plus Size Model.” If you are not following him on Facebook and Instagram you are really missing out, so get it done! I’ll tell you a secret, I was told by a very reliable source that Ed was in fact “Patient Zero” but I never saw him sick, and I never touched him, it was only after he got home that he told me he had the “SHOT Show Crud” so I hope that you avoid it this year my friend. Oh yeah, this is no secret, Ed stood me up as well, we were supposed to have some sliders at White Castle on the strip, but alas, he is just too “big time” for me these days. 😉

Also at SHOT Show I was able to reconnect with my friend Victor from Sierra Element and had a good time walking the show floor with him. If you are looking for firearms training in the greater Los Angeles and Ventura County area, Victor is the one you want to train with, he is “legit” as the hipsters say in this industry.

My other friends from “Smog City” Real Estate Mogul Scott and my buddy “Slo” showed up as well and I was treated to a great dinner at Bally’s by Scott and then hung out with them the following day all over the show floor. Scott, “Slo” and I met the year before at Ken Hackathorn’s course at Burro Canyon Shooting Park in the Angeles National Forest and both of them are brother’s from another mother. I look forward to seeing you both in 2019.

Since I don’t get to Vegas but once every few years I ended up doing some of the touristy things to do like seeing the world famous sign as you see in these photos, and I ended up spending a little time visiting some landmarks that are part of the history of “Sin City.” Oh, I wasn’t able to catch Chumley, Rick, the Old Man before he passed or Big Hoss at the Gold Miner, who knew that they don’t really work there and only show up when taping their show, Pawn Stars. Nice place, with some awesome merchandise inside, but it is not in the best area of town, just saying if you go, be carrying a gun.

By the way, speaking of carrying a gun, nobody and I mean absolutely nobody exercises their right to open carry a handgun or anything else for that matter in Las Vegas; however, when I drove down to Pahrump to visit my old friend Alex I saw dozens of open carry practitioners. To each their own, I will remain concealed everywhere I go.

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February was a very busy month, teaching a total of eight courses, along with hosting a course that sold out nine months in advance for Gabe White. If you have a chance to train with Gabe I highly recommend it, he is a superior technical and tactical shooter and one of the hottest commodities in the firearms training industry these days. My lasting impressions from the course were that Gabe is highly organized and how he gave each of us individual attention all throughout the course.

Speaking of organization skills, Gabe’s course of fire is planned out to the cartridge, and for example, to stay on task I carry laminated 3×5 cards in my pocket and refer to them often on the range during the courses I teach, Gabe has his trusty clipboard with him to keep himself on task. Eight of the fourteen people who attended the course were personal friends of mine and I had either known or trained with the other five at least once in the course. As I said, the course had sold out nine months prior so I asked Gabe if he would come back in September and he did, more to follow below. If you’d like to train with him please visit his Eventbrite page to reserve your seat by clicking on the link below, there is one seat left in the April course.

Gabe White Pistol Shooting Solutions – Lakeland, Florida April 13-14, 2019

March started off hosting Pat McNamara for his Pistol, Carbine Combo course. The retired United States Army Sergeant Major has an impressive background as a United States Army Delta Force Operator and that combined with his highly technical and tactical skill with a handgun and a carbine or any weapon he grabs for that matter gives you the inspiration that you can also be a better shooter too, you just have to put in the work. If you follow Pat Mac on social media you will know that he practices what he preaches by doing just that, putting in the work each and every day not only on his shooting skills but on his “Combat Chassis.” If you would like to attend a course with Pat, you can find his open enrollment schedule on his website in the link below.

TMACS, Inc – Tactics Marksmanship Adventure Concepts Security – Pat McNamara

Staying in the month of March I taught another eight courses and made a thirty hour plus round trip drive from my home in Florida to North Little Rock, Arkansas. On that trip, I had a problem with my vehicle, an idle sensor went out and the engine would not idle properly. It was fortuitous that there was a Ford dealership right across the highway from my hotel, and so my AAA membership came in handy as they showed up and towed my vehicle to the dealership. My Escape was fixed and back on the road in short order. By the way, in 2018 I put just under 29,000 miles on my 2015 Ford Escape tied to my business and with just under 90,000 miles on the odometer it is the best vehicle that I have ever owned. The photo below is of yours truly with “Jolly Green” at DARC, the Direct Action Resource Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Now April was an interesting month, Southwest Airlines took me to four different states teaching nine courses and I was also able to attend two as a student. In April I only slept at home six nights out of thirty. The highlight was training in below freezing weather at SIG SAUER Academy in Epping, New Hampshire, that was a lot of fun, no really it was a lot of fun and a great experience. Even though I don’t spend too much time in cold weather these days, by attending a two-day 1,000 round course of fire in that brutal of weather, I was reminded of my days living in cold winter weather and trying to “dress around the gun” with a heavy winter jacket, not to mention making sure that I could press the trigger well enough to get hits using full-finger gloves etc… and oh, by the way, I now own a very nice SIG SAUER logo knit cap that might not get much use here during the 70+ degree Florida winters.

The month of May was very busy for me. It started off by attending the 147th NRA Annual Meetings in Dallas, Texas and I once again volunteered as a Firearms Examiner checking all the guns on the show floor to make sure their firing pins are shaved so they do not have the capability of fire a cartridge should one be loaded by the thousands of people that handle them over the three-day weekend.

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Also a few weeks before the NRA Annual Meetings in Dallas, I was personally selected by the NRA Education and Training Department to attend one of the first two offerings of the NRA CCW Instructor course, see below.

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More to follow on this brand new curriculum, we are told that it will be released in the first quarter of 2019, stay tuned!

A visit to Dallas would not be complete without seeing Dealy Plaza and the place where history unfolded on November 22nd, 1963, in a word it gave me goosebumps, especially standing on the exact spot where Abraham Zapruder took his home video of the assassination of President Kennedy. The photo below is me standing in the middle of the road on the X where the first shot hit the President looking back up Elm Street at the old Texas School Book Depository building and the sixth-floor window from where Lee Harvey Oswald was at with his Manlicher-Carcano chambered in 6.5x52mm.

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Lastly, on Memorial Day I accomplished something that I am very proud of for the second time and that is completing “Memorial Day Murph” WOD. “Murph” is named after Lt. Michael Murphy, a United States Navy SEAL from Patchogue, New York. You may know his story, he was one of the heroes killed in action while serving our country during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in 2005.

I completed “Murph” RX or “as prescribed” and unfortunately injured myself in the process, but I still finished only slightly off my 2017 pace. Yep, already looking forward to the 2019 Memorial Day Murph WOD and training hard to improve my time. In case you don’t know what I am talking about this is a Crossfit Hero WOD and it is done all for an overall time while wearing a twenty-pound weighted vest or body armor. The WOD is listed on my morale patch pictured below.

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June was a blockbuster month, I ended up teaching nine courses and on the 5th I was approached by two companies here in the greater Tampa Bay area to provide some Active Shooter Training for their employees. This partnership has snowballed into a training 427 of their employees so they can apply for their Florida Concealed Weapons or Firearms License.

It takes a lot of logistics to manage that volume of students; however, these companies stepped up and have allowed me to use their conference rooms for the classroom portions of the courses both on weekday afternoons and some weeknights. Then setting schedules for groups of ten to meet me at the range for the shooting portion of the course was easy, once again that was done on weeknights and select weekends. This has been an excellent partnership and it is really only proving to be the beginning as I have four other major employers through referrals from the C-Level Executives asking to schedule Active Shooter Training in 2019. This is an exponential growth opportunity for my small training company and I am very thankful for those who have helped make all of this happen because there is no way that I could do it by myself.

July is typically my month off for vacation; however, I ended up teaching three courses, and then in late July, I finally took a real vacation where I picked up a lot of yardage in the area of rest and relaxation. This year I am going to do the same by going someplace I have not been before on the planet, China and South Africa are on the list, so is another couple of places, but those two top the list and it will probably be one or the other.

August started with a four day trip to L.A., that’s Lower Alabama to you Yankees, my trip was to consult with a Church Security Team and give them three solid days of training. I did this for expenses only as I do for all parishes and I must say that even months later the hospitality of the folks who hosted me is overwhelming to think about. They gave me a furnished apartment all ready for my stay, and it was kind of like staying at home, bring your PJ’s, a toothbrush and you’re good to go. I would go back again and teach another course for my bare minimum expenses anytime.

For the rest of the month of August, I squeaked in a few more courses and it was another one of those months where I spent a lot of time working weeknights trying to put all these employees through basic firearm safety training as well.

September was an action-packed month, with trips around the state and one outside of the state as well. I once again hosted Gabe White at Firearms Training Club of America in Lakeland, Florida and had a great time. Massad Ayoob (Better known to us as Uncle Mas) and his bride Gail Pepin were students in the course, and we had a couple of the February attendees who returned a second time, and he will be back here in Florida teaching a third time this coming April and again in February 2020, as I said above, there is still one seat open for the April course.

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October was in a word, normal, only teaching a few courses for a Security Guard/Executive Protection company based in Orlando and one in West Palm Beach. Mostly I was focused on keeping the students moving through our firearm safety courses throughout the month.

November was much the same, taught several courses here in Florida including three down in North Fort Myers for Tribe K Combat Arts and I was able to take some time to drive up to southern Georgia and attend a five-day Instructor course there. I was also able to lock in my 2019 schedule; however, the out of state schedule is still being tweaked by some out of the hosts and really doesn’t start in earnest until spring time anyway. Other than that, November was pedal to the metal.

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December is never busy, and that is by design, with the holidays I only schedule one or two courses, I spent most of the month working on personal projects around my home and various rental properties.

The commitment that I made last January to get to the range on a weekly basis has paid off in a big way. I am pressing the trigger better than ever before and by my estimate, I fired just shy of 14,000 rounds for the year. I only say estimate, because I have ordered and had delivered 16,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition and I only have 2,000 and change left as of right now, this doesn’t include rifle, the .22LR and Magnum cartridges, my 5.7x28mm or shotgun shells of which there were many fired over the course of the year.

So, as it stands, my weekly dates with the acorn picker will continue and I am going to start putting my practice sessions and photos of my targets here in my blog so you can follow along and see exactly what skills I am working on and what I am testing myself on as well.

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To sum up 2018, the 427 students that have dropped into my lap has skewed my numbers quite a bit; however, in total I taught 91 formal courses and trained 1,126 students in everything from a basic firearms safety course to a bunch of student and Instructor level courses for both the NRA and USCCA, those courses alone totaled well over 40.

2019 is shaping up rather nicely, and it all kicks off with a trip to Philadelphia to consult with a Parish Security Team there and then on to another destination for more training, I will be back home on Sunday and then it is off to South Florida next Monday and Tuesday. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Oh, I almost forgot, starting on Thursday, February 7th I will be teaching some mini-blocks of instruction every other week at a local gun range. These will be short 3-hour blocks on everything from classroom topics like situational awareness and other things to proper presentation of a handgun from a concealment holster. All blocks of instruction/coaching will be “post McCCW” course, so in order to attend, all participants must have had some basic instruction on safe gun handling at the very minimum and a concealed weapons license or permit. Keep watch for these courses to pop up online for registration. Tuition will be $99.00 and the program of instruction will give you work on the essential skills you need to possess as a responsibly armed citizen.

I’ll leave you with one last item. “Be a voice, not an echo” and above all else be a professional in your outward conduct and in both the written and spoken word, it will serve you well.

“There are no traffic jams on the high road in the firearms training industry.”

 

Thanks for checking in, and until next time, be vigilant, be the best and as always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

 

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