As a Midwest native who spent much of his career in California and is currently a Texas resident, I feel a connection with Dayton, Ohio, Gilroy, California, and El Paso, Texas.  But the next mass casualty event could happen anywhere. It is no longer a matter of if the next event occurs, but rather a matter of when and where.

I’m tired of these mass casualty events, and I’m tired of wondering if we in the emergency department are next. I am sure many of you are asking the same question: As emergency physicians, what can we do? 

As EM physicians, we’re fixers. We see people suffering every day, and we want to solve problems and fix them. We all know the world’s problems are a complicated mess, but surely there is something that we, as emergency physicians, can do to help. After all, we see the results of violence every day and unfortunately, mass casualty events are in emergency medicine’s lane.

The problem of violence and mass casualty events has bothered me for quite some time. Every mass shooting and mass casualty event eats at me. In 2017, I proposed to the ACEP Board of Directors that we develop a course that helps EM physicians and others train community members and the public how to be first responders. Our thought was, if more civilians and the public understood how to stop severe bleeding and do hands-only CPR, we might be able to save more patients. ACEP approved the concept, and we started working with FEMA’s civilian training course as the foundation for the Until Help Arrives™ program. We condensed the course down to an hour-long training that teaches the basics and we believe it can make a difference.  We rolled the pilot out at LAC19, and we have EM physicians in Rhode Island conducting our first courses this week.

Because it’s still a pilot that’s not scheduled to officially launch until ACEP19, I’m not supposed to be announcing anything yet. But last week’s tragedies have pushed me to ask: Why wait? I am tired of the violence, and I’m tired of emergency physicians and the general public feeling helpless.  I think it’s time to bypass formalities and put this resource out there for you, even though it’s still a pilot.

If you’re an emergency physician who is TIRED OF STATUS QUO and wants to MAKE A DIFFERENCE and do something positive to help, Until Help Arrives™ is available for you. I convinced ACEP to give you the course curriculum now and I’m asking you all to volunteer a little time to help teach, refine, and improve the program by joining the pilot as a community leader and a local course instructor. The ACEP Board and staff will support you every step of the way.

If not now, then when?  If not us, then whom? If not Until Help Arrives, then what?

If you are an emergency physician, emergency nurse, emergency provider, or anyone who is tired of violence against innocent civilians, I am asking to everyone to support, learn and teach Until Help Arrives™.  Let’s make a difference. This is something we can do to empower members of our communities to be confident as the first person on our emergency care team. Let’s all do our part to help reduce innocent deaths.

Paul Kivela, MD, FACEP

ACEP Immediate Past President