Lessons from a mass-murder

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Chief Inspector Knut Grini, a part-time SWAT operator with Norway’s National Police, was on holiday with his wife and their two daughters, heading for their car after a shopping jaunt near the government complex in Oslo, when the bomb went off:

He remembers “a lot of dust” from the blast getting in his wife’s eyes.

He recalls, “We looked at each other and said, ‘F___! The s___ just reached Norway.’ ”

Grini told his wife, “Get the kids, get in a taxi, and get out of here.”

Then, with no gun — police in Norway cannot be armed even on duty without special permission — he headed around a corner and down the street toward an enormous crater left by the bomb and toward buildings spewing flames and smoke.

He would be the first responding officer to the scene. Others followed within two minutes.

As first to arrive, you may need to be more a medical responder than a law enforcer, Grini says. As he moved among the injured, he wished he had carried a trauma kit in his car, including tourniquets and blood-stopping agents, even when off duty.

When he came upon an injured woman who had no pulse, he wishes now he had yelled out to the crowd beginning to form to see if anyone knew CPR so they could attempt to resuscitate her while he moved on to others who needed help.

But with his quick, informal triage of those downed around him, he was able to direct the first-arriving ambulance crew to those who seemed in the most dire condition. These included a severely injured man with a mangled foot and a punctured chest on whom Grini applied a makeshift tourniquet to slow the bleeding and used a scrap of plastic to seal the sucking chest wound.

He also stopped a public bus that approached the area and directed the driver to take on less-injured victims for transport to medical facilities so ambulances would be free to serve the more critically harmed.

Grini found himself enraged at the ghoulishness of onlookers with cameras, some of whom pushed in to get close ups of bleeding faces and bodies.

Then it occurred to him that terrorist collaborators might be in the crowd photographically documenting the damage for bragging rights.

“I saw someone with a big camera and asked him to take pictures of everyone who was taking pictures, thinking this might be useful evidence later on, perhaps even helping to identify a suspect,” he explains.

(Hat tip to Greg Ellifritz.)

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