Preparing fire agencies for mass-shooting response

Image: Chris Yarzab/flickr Fire departments are an integral part of…

LAFD Los Angeles Fire Department
Image: Chris Yarzab/flickr

Fire departments are an integral part of any mass-shooting response. As such, chiefs should partner with local law-enforcement agencies that can train firefighters to respond with a higher level of situational awareness, said August Vernon, operations officer for the Forsyth County (N.C.) Office of Emergency Management. Vernon is a military veteran who served in Iraq and teaches courses on incident management and mass violence/mass shootings. FIRE CHIEF spoke with Vernon about the threat of violence to firefighters and their new role — especially fire/paramedics and EMTs — when responding to such incidents.

What are the risks facing firefighters during mass shootings?

For example, the fire department was an integral part of the Sandy Hook response effort. What we saw there is that sometimes perception with fire and EMS is that you are going to stage or standby outside the scene like you normally do on a shooting or a stabbing. But these incidents, like in Sandy Hook, the fire trucks were on the scene quickly and involved in that incident. This is not your normal incident. It is very large-scale, high impact. You may be on the scene even when it isn’t secured 100%, because it does take a long time to secure large facilities and these big scenes.

Read the rest of the Q&A at

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