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Lessons Learned: The Mass Shootings in Tucson

Lessons learned are lessons planned, practiced, and shared. Each mass shooting incident has similarities and differences from all others, so articles like this one from 2012 can help better prepare all jurisdictions.

By Sophia Paros for Domestic Preparedness

On Saturday, 8 January 2011, at 10:10 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, a gunman opened fire on U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and a group of “everyday citizens” attending her “Congress on Your Corner” gathering in front of a Safeway supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. The gunman fired 31 rounds, killing six people and wounding not only Giffords herself and 12 other persons. U.S. District Judge John Roll and Gabriel Zimmerman, a member of Giffords’ staff, were among those killed.

Several people in the crowd acted immediately to detain the gunman and keep him from shooting anyone else; meanwhile, members of Giffords’ congressional staff, and two doctors, who were shopping at the Safeway at the time of the incident, provided first aid to the victims. Pima County 911 operators received the first call from the incident scene at 10:11 a.m, and a deputy from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD) arrived on site at 10:15 a.m. and detained the suspect. A second deputy arrived soon after and secured the shooter’s weapon. While the incident site was being secured, PCSD deputies used Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs) to administer first aid to survivors of the shooting in the six minutes before local EMS (emergency medical services) personnel also entered the incident scene.


The first several minutes of a mass shooting incident are almost always crucial to survival in such incidents. Fortunately, that critical truth had been addressed by the PCSD well in advance of the 8 January 2011 shootings – primarily through rigorous training and the distribution of a number of IFAKs, by July 2010, to PCSD units. As pointed out in an LLIS (Lessons Learned Information Sharing) report – Good Story, Mass Casualty Incidents: The Pima County, Arizona, Sheriff’s Department’s Development and Use of Individual First Aid Kits (available on – the Pima County Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team started developing their IFAK kits by first evaluating off-the-shelf first-aid kits. The team then compared those kits with others, carried by U.S. combat medics in war zones, and used the information gained to develop their own IFAKs.

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Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay

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