During a mass shooting – paramedics normally wait outside while the suspect is still at large. Traditionally, it’s only members of law enforcement who enter the so-called “hot zone” in these scenarios, and firefighters and paramedics wait until the area is secured.
However, that is a precious time that an injured and bleeding victim waits for help. “We can’t wait hours while people are in the corridor dying while we’re waiting for bad guys with guns to be removed,” Omaha Asst. Fire Chief Shane Hunter said.
That will soon start to change in Omaha, Nebraska, where members of a new rescue task force are training to “jointly respond in the event of a mass shooting or other situation where multiple causalities are likely”–.
Members of the task force include officers and firefighters from Omaha’ police and fire departments. This week, 40 of them went through hours of “classroom education and physical training,” which included learning how to apply tourniquets to themselves and others.
During the training, Omaha firefighters and paramedics tried on bullet-proof vests and helmets –the type of gear that will be added to the city’s fire trucks and ambulances.
This will allow medics to respond in the middle of an “active threat.” A rescue task force firefighter or paramedic will enter “in step” with an officer…giving them a ‘faster track’ to the patient – and a better chance to get the victim to a safe zone.
While police will be ‘threat focused’ — the first responders will be “patient focused.”
“We have to train for the extreme,” said Officer Devin Crinklaw, who is leading the effort at the police and fire training academy. “Ultimately, to see citizens die less often … that is the goal.”
Hunter and Crinklaw reportedly came up with the idea for the training six years ago, but it hasn’t happened until now. “We share the same mission,” Crinklaw said. “We shouldn’t wait until the killing starts. That’s too late.”
They refer back to a deadly mass shooting in 2007, at the Von Maur department store inside an Omaha mall. The shooter killed nine people including himself and wounded four others. It was the deadliest mass murder in Nebraska since 1958.
Police officers on the task force say they want to learn from the mistakes made in past active shooter situations. .. to “think about tomorrow’s battles and take one extra step.”
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