19 Jun 2013

Responding to Mass Casualty Shootings – Strengthening Fire/Law Enforcement/EMS Partnerships

Local police and fire departments often respond and work together in a variety of incidents. This joint response is becoming all too common with the current increase in the number and magnitude of “active shooter” events.


Recent events such as the Aurora movie theater shooting, the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy and Santa Monica campus shooting underscore the increasing concern in the fire service over active shooter attacks by terrorists armed with weapons in public areas, such as schools, shopping malls, churches and other places where large numbers of people congregate. These events typically involve one or more suspects who participate in ongoing, random or systematic shooting sprees or other violence with an intent to harm others and result in mass casualties.


On April 2, 2013 the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in cooperation with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the International Chiefs of Police, convened a meeting to address, “Responding to Mass Casualty Shootings – Strengthening Fire/Law Enforcement/EMS Partnerships.” The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the Fraternal Order of Police also participated in the meeting.


Based on the proceedings of this meeting, there is a real and present threat and an obvious need for all organizations involved to work together when confronted with an armed individual who has either already killed and injured people or is threatening to do so.


In light of recent events and the nationwide initiative, the IAFF Executive Board felt it prudent to release position statements in regard to the expected changes in response paradigms and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for fire departments responding to active shooter events.


The position statements are relevant to IAFF locals in fire departments that are changing response protocols or SOPs in an effort to embrace a more assertive approach to rendering life-saving care and rescuing viable victims in areas considered to be “warm zones” (not fully secured) during such an event.


The Active Shooter Event Position Statement and the Rescue Task Force Training Position Statement are intended to assure that IAFF locals have a guidance template for use when discussing appropriate actions and safety considerations during fire department SOP development.


Based on the passage of the Active Shooter Position Statements, it was necessary for the IAFF to clarify its position on Tactical EMS. The IAFF considers Tactical EMS very different from the active shooter protocols previously discussed. Therefore, the IAFF Executive Board also developed a position statement on Tactical EMS for IAFF locals to use as a reference during departmental discussions of IAFF members being trained and participating as part of a tactical SWAT Team.


More on the subject of responding to active shooter events will be addressed at the upcoming John P. Redmond Symposium/Dominick F. Barbera EMS Conference scheduled for August 21-24, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency in Denver, Colorado.

More Resources

Priority Five: Improve Immediate Emergency Victim Care at Mass Casualty Events

TECC Overview

For more information about the IAFF position statements, contact Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell at lmoore@iaff.org.

Article provided by International Association of Fire Fighters

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