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Chula Vista Offers Public Shooting Safety Workshop

By Mario A. Cortez

Attendees participated in a hands-on tourniquet and wound packing tutorial during the shooting safety workshop on Monday, April 17, in Chula Vista. (Mario A. Cotez/La Prensa San Diego)

Chula Vista Residents had the opportunity to learn about remaining safe during an active shooter scenario and how to perform life-saving first aid techniques during a workshop held at the City Council Chambers on Monday, April 17.

During the two-hour event, attendees had the opportunity to hear members of the Chula Vista police and fire departments talk about what to do in case of an active shooter event and how to provide care once it is safe to do so.

“We put together a program for everybody to learn a skill,” said Hugo Bermudez of the Chula Vista Community Emergency Response Team. “We hope that everyone here today, after this is all done, learns something that will help them in the event of (an active shooter scenario).”

Chula Vista Police Department Sergeant Mike Varga opened the first half of the presentation by sharing with attendees their three options in the midst of a shooting: running, hiding, or, as a last resort, fighting.

During this segment, it was detailed that when running to safety, one should have a planned escape route in mind. Varga also advised those present to always be aware of their surroundings and to be familiar with locations of exits and to call 911 from a safe place if escape was possible.

If hiding, locating a room with an entrance that can be barricaded works best.While hiding in an open space, it is ideal to not reveal any body parts or give away your location. If possible, hiding behind a solid barrier is best, as bullets can penetrate wood and drywall. Varga pointed out that on average these shooter episodes last about 5 to 10 minutes, so patience is key while hiding in a highly-stressful situation.

If the only option is fighting the shooter as a means to survive, Varga advices to disable the shooter as soon as possible and by any means necessary. The neck, head, and groin are particularly vulnerable areas to strike with the body or with a weapon he said.

The second half of the workshop focused on providing first aid to those who are wounded and need assistance.

Terry Wirth of the Chula Vista Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services team spoke about life-saving techniques to stop bleeding in victims of gunshot wounds.

During this portion of the event, Wirth explained what a tourniquet and its uses are, how to how to make a makeshift tourniquet, and how to pack wounds to halt heavy bleeding in areas such as the neck, chest, and torso.

Wirth also advised attendees to purchase these items from reputable manufacturers or medical suppliers, as cheaper tourniquets may not be as secure or reliable in stopping bleeding.

The workshop concluded with a hands-on tourniquet and wound packing tutorial. Participants secured a tourniquet onto a foam roller and stuffed an opening with gauze.

Two-hour event consisted of presentations by the Chula Vista police and fire departments. (Mario A. Cortez/La Prensa San Diego)

Isaura, a Chula Vista resident in attendance, pointed out that the workshop was a great learning experience and can allow her provide care to wounds if necessary.

“I had never in my life applied a tourniquet,” she said. “It is a good skill to have because I volunteer at a school so knowing how to stop bleeding is a good skill to have, especially when a student might need this treatment.”

This is the third informational event held by CERT, with two of these events being held last year, one in during the summer months and the second one in December.

In a previous article, Bermudez pointed out that such informational sessions are necessary as shootings continue to occur around the country.

Chula Vista CERT is planning on hosting another active shooter program in this fall season.

As of the time of publication, there have been 89 mass shooting incidents in the United States, yielding 145 casualties and 299 injured civilians.

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