N.C. First Responders Unite in Active Shooter Training
The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.
Dec. 07—Firefighters, police, deputies and paramedics lined up behind an armored vehicle, using it as a shield, as they rushed to rescue victims of an active shooter.
Crouching and staying close to each other, they approached the building where the shooter was peppering the area with bullets.
A line of four men—two armed lawmen escorting rescue personnel—made their way to three injured people lying on the ground. The rescuers quickly dragged the victims out of the gunman's range as the lawmen provided cover.
Those were among the scenarios that representatives from Cumberland County's first-responder agencies practiced Wednesday as part of a unified response plan for any such situations.
"It's (training) getting ready to happen a lot," Fayetteville police Capt. Jay DeVane said.
That's because emergency responders want to be on the same page in the event of any violence involving mass casualties.
DeVane is a member of a task force that was formed to come up with a response plan in the event of mass-casualty crimes, including shootings, stabbings, bombings or using a vehicle as a weapon.
"It's needed," said Kevin Murphy, assistant chief of the Stoney Point Fire Department and a task force member. "It's not a question of if, but when, this will occur."
Wednesday's drill at the Fayetteville Fire Department's training facility is designed to help ensure that, if such an event occurs, all agencies are on the same page when responding.
"One of the first problems addressed is that no one is in charge, but everyone is in charge," said Mike Clumpner, president and chief executive officer of Threat Suppression Inc. in Charlotte. "This training sets clear, defined roles and responsibilities for each agency responding."
"A unified approach and operating procedure is critical," he said.
Assistant Chief Kevin Morgan of the Fayetteville Fire Department has worked on a unified plan for about four years and has helped lead the task force. A unified response benefits everyone, he said.
"The sooner we get the teams in, the better," he said.
The responders, divided into four groups, rotated among three scenarios; getting to victims outside, in a multi-story building and inside a building, such as a school.
Teams learned how to go into an active-violence area and get the injured people out as quickly and safely as possible.
Chances are low that such a crime will happen in Cumberland County, but Clumpner said responders need to be ready to act if it does.
He drew an analogy using Winnie the Pooh, the lovable teddy bear created by writer A.A. Milne.
"If you ever read the Pooh books, he (Winnie) was very worried about some creatures that were going to come to the Hundred Acre Wood and steal his 'hunny,' " Clumpner said. "He went to great pains to protect his 'hunny.' "
But the heffalumps, woozles and jagulars never show up.
"Just like that fence over there," Clumpner said, gesturing toward the Fayetteville Regional Airport and noting that crash trucks and firefighters are on standby in the event of a crash.
"This is one of those events where we understand the magnitude and impact," he said, "and we're going to protect our 'hunny' in the Hundred Acre Wood."