Cuyahoga County Fire Departments To Form Rescue Task Forces To Respond To Active Shooter Incidents

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Cuyahoga County fire departments to form rescue task forces to respond to active shooter incidents

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Fire departments throughout Cuyahoga County are creating rescue task forces - firefighters/paramedics who will rush into buildings with police during active shooter incidents to care for the injured.

Nearly every fire department will soon be equipped with ballistic vests, ballistic helmets and medical trauma bags, which the county will buy with a $100,000 federal grant.

If there is a mass shooting, all departments - with the same training and equipment, will be able to work together with police, said Lyndhurst Fire Chief Michael Carroll, who is helping develop the program.

"All the county fire departments have worked collaboratively on this project because it will be a multi-jurisdictional response," Carroll said. "We will work from the same sheet of music and it will be much more seamless."

The county is modeling the program after one developed in Arlington, Virginia in the mid-2000s.

How is a Rescue Task Force needed?

Allowing medical personnel into buildings and areas before they were secured evolved as police altered the way they responded to mass shootings, officials said.

An "active shooter incident" is commonly defined as an incident in which one or more people use deadly force on other people and continue to do so while having unrestricted access to additional victims.

After the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, police developed proactive responses to immediately pursue and neutralize the shooter before waiting for SWAT, Arlington officials said in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services., But EMS teams did not follow suit.

Police teams that ran into a building bypassed injured people to find the active threat, and paramedics waited outside in a secure location.

The Arlington County Fire Department developed the Rescue Task Force in which EMS personnel were trained to respond with police in an active shooting incident to treat the wounded.

The task forces follow the military medicine model of response.

"The goal of this response is to get medical resources to the patient's side within minutes of being wounded while continuing to mitigate provider risk," the Arlington officials said.

What has happened in Cuyahoga County?

Carroll said that while several large fire departments in have some form of a rescue task force, a countywide program would help save lives. 

The county's fire chiefs worked collaboratively on the project but didn't have the money to buy safety equipment, he said. The equipment should arrive by fall and paramedics will be trained, he said.

Two paramedics will enter with two to four law enforcement officers, who will control where they can go, he said.

"We won't be in the act same area the shooter will be in," Carroll said.

The paramedics will provide immediate treatment for readily treatable injuries.

"The goal is to get the task force in as quick as possible to start treatment right away," he said. "The quicker we get there to stop the bleeding and control airway management," the better chance people can survive.

The injured would be removed as possible to receive further treatment, he said.

"This will be a true countywide initiative," he said. "Responding to an active threat is so resource-heavy."

The grant provides the ability to bring everyone up to the same capacity, he said.

"In the rare event where there is an active shooter or active threat we will be better equipped," he said. 

Source : http://www.cleveland.com/cuyahoga-county/index.ssf/2017/08/cuyahoga_county_fire_departments_form_rescue_task_forces_to_respond_to_active_shooter_incidents.html

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