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Are we ready for an active shooter situation?

by | Apr 5, 2018 | Personal Injury

With all the dangers in the world today, active shooter situations are one of the dangers you can push aside. The local police and fire have it covered. That’s because the police and fire departments have teamed up with other localities to ensure they have the best teams possible to handle the unexpected.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security the definition of an “Active Shooter” is “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.” 

“Everything started to change in 1999 after the Columbine High School shooting. At that time, law enforcement did exactly what they were trained to do – contain the scene and call in special teams,” City of Dayton Senior Paramedic, MMRS/RMRS Program Director, David Gerstner said. “So, they called SWAT and hostage negotiators. But, in the meantime, the shooters continued to kill students and teachers. Kids actually put a sign in the window stating that one of the students was bleeding to death – they were begging for help.”

Since active shooter situations tend to last only 10-15 minutes, sometimes before the police and fire departments arrive. It’s now imperative for the individuals inside the “danger zone” to help minimize the threat or get to safety until help arrives. It’s also imperative for the police and EMS to “take out the threat” so they can begin to help the individuals being affected.

“At one time, our training consisted of instructing residents to play dead in an active shooter situation,” Xenia Township Fire Chief Dean Fox said during a Board of Trustee meeting. “But, now it’s been determined that the shooters are going back for the kill. So, now our training consists of Run, Hide, Fight.”

Homeland Security advises that individuals follow these practices for coping with an active shooter situation:

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers;
  • Take note of the two nearest exists in any facility you visit;
  • If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door;
  • If you are in a hallway, get into the room and secure the door;
  • As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her.

Run, Hide, Fight.

Companies and businesses need to develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP). Training is available through the police and fire departments. It’s also a great idea to allow local law enforcement, emergency responders, K-9 teams, the bomb squad and SWAT teams to use your facility for training purposes.

“After the Columbine shooting, the tactics changed and then after the Sandy Hook Elementary school incident, it changed again,” Beavercreek Police Officer Eric Grile said. “Now, don’t wait for the 9-1-1 call to be made or the police to show up before taking action. Doing nothing seems to be a fatal decision.”

The Lebanon Police Department is one of the local forces that have implemented the SORAT (single officer response active shooting situation) response system. The Dayton region is also a part of the MMRS (Metropolitan Medical Response System), which is a federal program to help prepare police and fire departments to be prepared for both terrorist or hazardous disasters. Now, with all forces working together, the police department’s main goal is to “make the sound of the gun fire stop.”

“It’s important to remember that when a person calls 9-1-1 to provide to the operator the location of the shooter, the number of shooters, a description of each type of weapons used and the number of potential victims,” Grile said.

The first responding officers will not stop to help injured individuals or deal with fatalities. Their main goal is to stop the threat. That’s where the fire department EMS comes into play. They’ve developed a Rescue Task Force which is different than anything they’re used to. It was designed to get the EMS team to the injured individuals faster and provide treatment while the police are attempting to take out the threat.

Through grant money, the Rescue Task Force, which is voluntary to the fire department, are provided bulletproof vests and helmets. They’re allowed to enter areas that don’t pose an immediate threat and provide immediate help to those needing it – instead of waiting to enter when the whole building or area is cleared and absent of threats. Thus, saving lives.

The police and fire departments train and practice situations with each other and others in the community, such as hospitals, schools and business to ensure every person in each situation know what their part and responsibilities consist of so everyone can rely on each other. Victims inside the threat rush into action while police and fire are notified and arrive. Once police arrive, even one police officer, they will enter immediately, clear a “warm spot” for EMS so they can enter. When a plan is in place and practiced, success is more effective.

“We are committed to work in partnership with our community, to safeguard life and property while ensuring the rights of all people, and thereby enhancing the quality of life for our citizens,” Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers said.

“I have every confidence that if this happens here, it’ll work. It’ll help and it’ll save lives. Do I have every confidence that everything will happen as we write it in the protocol? I’m not stupid,” Gerstner said. “But, I’m very confident that this concept will save lives. No question about it.”

Contact your local police and fire departments to find out what response team they have in for your community. The lawyers at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima want you and your family to know what to do if you encounter an active shooter.