Bartow, Fla. (April 9, 2019) — Polk County Fire Rescue, in cooperation with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, has recently completed department wide active shooter training for all of its emergency response personnel. In addition to the training, the division has supplied active shooter safety equipment, including ballistics helmets, vests and specialty medical bags to all of its engines, ladder trucks and ambulances.
With the current rate of active shooter and mass casualty incidents continuously increasing, PCFR has taken steps to protect its members and increase their situational efficiency should an unthinkable act take place within the boundaries of the division’s coverage area. The addition of these resources to PCFR’s operational capabilities will give the division the ability to triage, treat and transport potential victims quicker, which will ultimately result in overall better incident outcomes.
“The thought of an event of this category taking place within our county is not something that we would like to imagine, nevertheless it is imperative that Polk County Fire Rescue be prepared to respond to a worst case scenario,” said Polk County Fire Rescue Fire Chief Tony Stravino. “The addition of this vital equipment and interagency training will assist our division in handling a mass causality, active shooter incident with the highest level of safety and efficiency.”
“Firefighters and paramedics save lives, and are willing to go into dangerous situations to do so, but it’s imperative that they have the adequate protection and training,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “We consider it an honor to partner with them so they can quickly get to victims in need under the worst of circumstances.”
Currently all PCFR frontline engine and rescue crews are equipped with ballistics gear, along with specialty medical “Go Bags”. The ballistic gear includes helmets and vests designed to protect the crew’s vital organs, in the event that the active shooter fires upon them. The “Go Bags” contain the necessary rescue tools to stop major bleeding and treat life threatening injuries immediately in a triage situation.
“The acquisition of the tactical vests and helmets would not have been possible without Sheriff Grady Judd’s support in assisting PCFR in obtaining this valuable protective equipment,” added Stravino. “This is a testament to the commitment that BOTH our agencies have to the safety of the residents, visitors and businesses of Polk County.”
With the increase in incidents of this category, response efficiency and operational familiarity between PCFR and PCSO became a necessity. This prompted the establishment of an interagency training program. During this training, rescue and law enforcement crews became familiarized with the methods used by each agency to increase both operational safety and fluidity so collectively the agencies are able to serve the public more affectively.
“In a situation like this, close cooperation with law enforcement is critical to protect our crews and the public to assure the most successful possible outcome,” said Stravino. “Through our interagency training with PCSO, I am confident that our respective agencies will work together as a single fluid unit during a possible incident of this sort.” “Stravino went on to say PCFR has offered this training to all the counties municipal fire departments so they all can work in unison should the need arise.
Since the 1966 mass shooting from the Texas Tower at the University of Texas, the prevalence of these acts has grown significantly. According to a study by the Department of Homeland Security, United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center published on March 2018, a total of 28 mass attacks took place in 2017.