Roundtable: Response to Shooting Incidents

By John “Skip” Coleman

During my career, I have responded to several incidents involving shootings. To my recollection, on most of these, the police were already on the scene. On a few, however, as company officer or as a chief officer, I/we were the first to arrive or already on the scene when violence broke out and shots were fired. I have heard several accounts of these type of incidents that have occurred across the country.

Several of these have stuck in my mind. One occurred in a very nice neighborhood in a eastern city where a man barricaded himself in the garage of his home after shooting a few family members in the house. If memory serves, he had at least one of his children held hostage with him in the garage when police and fire crews arrived. The beginning and middle of the story are not pertinent to this article. The ending was that a little girl bled to death under a front yard tree. The fire crew did as procedure dictated and staged a block away until police secured the scene.

Several years ago, in a similar Roundtable question, I discussed the Columbine shooting and asked: “If you were dispatched to a shooting in a school and arrived prior to police and kids running out told you that there were kids shot lying in the hallway inside the door, would you have your crew go in and pull them out our would you wait till police secured the scene?”

Responses were fast and furious. Since then, this country of our has experienced what seems to be a rash of active shooting incidents.  We have for a long time had a fire “risk policy” that begins: “We will take great risk to save life.”  Is that to be a “fire only” policy or is it an “all risk” policy?

That brings me to this month’s question. Does your department have an “active shooting incident procedure” and, if so, in a nutshell, what is it? Please respond and share your departments policy so those without a current policy can perhaps coin one.

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Skip Coleman: Firefighting RoundtableJohn “Skip” Coleman Fire Engineering; a member of the FDIC Educational Advisory Board; and author of Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer (Fire Engineering, 1997), Managing Major Fires (Fire Engineering, 2000), Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer, Second Edition (Fire Engineering, 2008) and Searching Smarter (Fire Engineering 2011) and 2011 recipient of the FDIC Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement retired as assistant chief from the Toledo (OH) Department of Fire and Rescue. He is a technical editor of Fire Engineering.

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