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13 Feb 2020

The Therapeutic Vacuum & Prehospital Care at Ambition 2020

Although the terror threat level was lowered from ‘severe’ to ‘substantial’ in November last year, a series of recent terrorist attacks indicates that it is still necessary to maintain a high level of preparedness. More importantly, the number of incidents has given rise to a debate calling for closer collaboration between security forces and emergency services which would secure an effective response and save lives within, what they call, the “therapeutic vacuum” of a high threat environment.

Prehospital care will be at the centre of this year’s debate at the Ambition Conference at CTX 2020. As Europe’s leading event for preparedness, resilience and response, the Ambition Conference keeps a finger on the pulse of latest topics, issues and industry needs by providing an international platform for discussion and thought leadership. This is achieved by bringing together exceptional service men and women, from emergency planners to operational first responders, to analyse case studies from past attacks and explore specialist response, tactical and trauma medicine, training and exercise and community and public led resilience.

This year, Ambition will welcome Dr Claire Park, Medical Advisor to Specialist Firearms Command of the Met Police, Dr Matthie Langois, Chief Doctor at the Parisian elite RAID Unit and Matt Pepper, Lead Instructor and Capability Manager for Tactical Medicine at the New South Wales Ambulance Service and President of the Australian Tactical Medical Association.

Park, Langois and Pepper recently contributed to an essay, ‘How to stop the dying, as well as the killing, in a terrorist attack’, published in BMJ.

Applying international experience of prehospital care in both military and civilian environments, the essay argues that the UK police forces would make a real difference for injured civilians if they adopted standard military practices in the event of an attack - enabling armed officers to provide care under fire. Police are trained to rapidly position patients, apply bandages, open airways, provide bag valve masks and administer oxygen but in current training armed police are taught to deliver medical assistance after a threat is neutralised.

However, “care under fire” has proven effective during real situations, as seen during the Paris Bataclan terrorist attack in 2014 when RAID doctors entered the concert hall alongside police officers and tended to casualties while the operation was still ongoing. As a result, about 100 lives were saved and evacuated safely. On the other hand, there are challenges associated with the “therapeutic vacuum” such as patients being clinically trapped at the scene due to their injuries and officers being unable to recall the triage system during a live attack, causing difficulties in identifying and tending to priority groups.

Despite significant improvements made by UK joint emergency services, responding to a marauding terrorist attack and utilising the “therapeutic vacuum” remain the “hot topics” of the “hot zone”. With a team of prestigious and experiences professionals lined up as speakers, the Ambition Conference aims to elevate the debate through thought leadership and pave the way for positive change.

Find out more about the Ambition Conference at CTX 2020:


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