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Thread: SOPs/SOGs for active shooter incidents...

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    Default SOPs/SOGs for active shooter incidents...

    In the wake of Sandy Hook and the ambush in Webster, NY; does your FD have protocols on responding to active shooter or getting shot at in the performance of duty?
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    My FD does not.

    Several have been drafted and sent up the chain of command for consideration, amendment, and approval but they always seem to get lost in the shuffle without so much as a peep from the "Big Chief" (and/or his designees).

    I guess when we are unfortunate enough to have our "15 minutes of fame", such an SOP/SOG will magically appear out of nowhere as "steps to improve our organization's readiness and response".
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    We have had discussions on a active shooter at staff meetings. Nothing is set in stone. Nothing has been discussed yet about being fired on.

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    Nothing in writing in my department, or any in the area that I know if, but if it's a known situation with weapons involved, SOP around here is to wait in the wings till the cops call us in.

    If a weapon suddenly becomes part of the mix (which did happen in this area), SOPs aren't going to do much good unless they are very thick and printed on Kevlar.

    Given the possible variations on the theme, it would be virtually impossible to write an SOP to deal with the unknown weapon issue. OTOH, the best defense is situational awareness and getting out while the getting is good. That's something they taught us in basic EMT class 25 years ago.
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    Active shooter response is same as bomb threat response. We standby at our stations until called to scene by PD.

    Shooter firing at us......duck, cover, retreat.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Active shooter response is same as bomb threat response. We standby at our stations until called to scene by PD.

    Shooter firing at us......duck, cover, retreat.
    Seems like that should be pretty universal. What other options would you have as unarmed personnel?
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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Seems like that should be pretty universal. What other options would you have as unarmed personnel?
    One of the thoughts is that Fire/EMS personnel might be partnered with a single officer to secure rooms/areas behind the entry team to more rapidly provide care to the wounded. Given the often limited LEO response and the sheer size of the buildings, waiting for the complete "all clear" will cost lives. IIRC that's exactly what they found a Columbine and what likely no one will admit about Newtown? Victims awaiting treeatment for 2-3 hours will result in needless deaths. Of course this isn't without increased risks, but we as first responders do assume elevated risks all the time whenthe benefit warrants. One can hardly argue that the benefits side of the scale is maxed out when children are inside and bleeding, how much risk is too much? In most caes there just aren't enouh armed LEO's to be efficient at securing and rescuing at once. This of course is not suggested as somehting that wouldn't come froma signifcant amount of planning with local LEO.

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    No active shooter policy, same as any other shooting we go to. Hang out, out of the way until the cops let us in. I'm not even sure how well the cops are prepared for it to be honest. I think public safety in general isn't well prepared for these situations, because it goes against our "Everyone goes home" "safety safety safety" mentality. The Police don't often take an aggressive approach at these situations, they seem to secure the area and move forward very slowly, even when SWAT and the other big guns arrive. It seems that often times victims are left to fend for themselves while we wait outside for hours even though the guy shot himself when he heard the first siren.

    I'm not a cop, I don't know about police things. I don't mean to slam them, it just seems to be the opinion of an outside observer. The idea of SWAT coming in and kicking the door down and shooting the bad guys seems to be a Hollywood fabrication. They seem to do a lot of surround and contain, then move in after things have been quiet for a bit. In their defense, this is a low frequency event so I guess I can't really blame them and don't want to sound critical of them. I think we are at fault too, because the possibility RFDACM02 brought up about us going in behind the cops as they secure the area is something I don't think many in our profession or EMS would do because its not "safe enough". We'd rather wait outside until the whole building is clear than expose ourselves to some danger moving in behind the cops as they move forward to save the lives of the wounded. So the cops taking a very aggressive approach probably wouldn't do much to get us to the victims all that much quicker.

    As for us being shot at, we do have a policy for when we are in danger from the public. Basically its get on the radio and say something, then get out if possible. We also have codewords, so in the event the guy is right in front of us threatening us, we can get the message out without it being obvious. I think the most important thing to do is make sure you get on the radio, especially if it is a West Webster situation. For how bad it was that 2 firemen were killed and 2 wounded, they got lucky that day. If that person had waited longer he could have shot a whole bunch of firemen. You've got a structure fire and volunteer departments responding on a day that almost everyone is off of work on, you're gonna have a good turnout of members. They easily could have had 15-20 guys on scene if he had waited a few minutes longer. I believe one other West Webster truck and 1 mutual aid engine were pretty darn close to the scene when FF Hofstetter got on the radio and reported the shooting. They would have come right in like sheep to the slaughter, they had nothing but FF Hofstetter's radio transmission to warn them of what was going on.

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    We have had the same policy involving an incident with gunfire as we do for bomb threats. We stage a distance away and let the PD handle the situation and we go in when cleared.

    In the wake of the Newtown CT and West Webster NY incidents, I have written a draft for my FD about dealing with this type of incident, incorporating previous language from SOPs/SOGs and adding a section for the possibility of being shot at.

    The reason I posted this is to get people thinking.. something that at times on this site is woefully lacking....
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Obviously the Newtown incident was a known shooter situation prior to anyone being toned out.

    But the Webster event was an unknown , except for report of "structure fire." If we don't have reason to expect these types of situations then how can we possibly write enough SOP/G's to cover every possibility , without making it a we don't go to any scene until cleared by PD ?

    I can't see how anyone could have predicted a sniper waiting for the fire department to show up . As was said above, if the shooter had waited a few minutes the death toll could have been much higher than it was. Maybe in a big city urban environment where shootings are more commonplace, you redflag certain areas, but in rural America???
    Yes you can have policy for what to do AFTER a situation has occurred. but that won't help the initial responders.

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    We have some medics trained as Tactical EMS (TEMS), but there are only 2 of them slated for that response every day to cover the whole city. They usually go on SWAT standby's or barricades. They aren't armed however (screw that). Basically they drag out victims and stop major bleeding, but they go in behind the cops.
    We all have vests on our Medic vehicles, and stage a block or two away or out of line of sight on violent calls. Any shootings or stabbings with multiple victims is handled like any mass casualty, but you just have to adapt to the particular situation. The cops dictate wether the scene is secure or not, but even then there can be confusion. Keeping units informed and controlled is probably the biggest thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    One of the thoughts is that Fire/EMS personnel might be partnered with a single officer to secure rooms/areas behind the entry team to more rapidly provide care to the wounded. Given the often limited LEO response and the sheer size of the buildings, waiting for the complete "all clear" will cost lives. IIRC that's exactly what they found a Columbine and what likely no one will admit about Newtown? Victims awaiting treeatment for 2-3 hours will result in needless deaths. Of course this isn't without increased risks, but we as first responders do assume elevated risks all the time whenthe benefit warrants. One can hardly argue that the benefits side of the scale is maxed out when children are inside and bleeding, how much risk is too much? In most caes there just aren't enouh armed LEO's to be efficient at securing and rescuing at once. This of course is not suggested as somehting that wouldn't come froma signifcant amount of planning with local LEO.
    Pretty cut and dry around here. There doesn't even have to be an "active" shooter. If the perpetrator is still on the scene, the FD waits for an all clear from the PD.
    RK
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    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    Pretty cut and dry around here. There doesn't even have to be an "active" shooter. If the perpetrator is still on the scene, the FD waits for an all clear from the PD.
    Same here now and for the forseeable future, but the discussion toward making life saving changes will likely encompass how to use more vetted personnel earlier on.

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