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The Roles of Fire and EMS Personnel in Armed Attacks

Posted on January 3, 2013 by Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines

The Etiquette of Being a Fire Chief (on the Mu+ual Aid Blog)

Feb 11: Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines outlines how practicing proper etiquette will significantly assist fire chiefs in becoming successful leaders. Read the Blog »

More than two hundred and sixty five people have been killed in multiple death armed attacks since the Littleton, Colorado Columbine High School shootings in 1999 through the most recent armed attack at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

As members of the fire service we now know that no-notice events such as Aurora, Colorado; Portland, Oregon and Sandy Hook have and will occur anywhere, at any place, to anyone or demographic. There is not one among us who hasn't been touched by the more recent events in Webster, New York where firefighters became the target of a planned armed attack.

Accordingly, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is undertaking a study of these events in both this country and internationally to identify risk commonalities and best practices to successfully respond to these diverse incidents. The topical report will be released later this month and is currently undergoing extensive peer reviews. Extraordinary efforts on the part of local fire/rescue and EMS agencies have to be taken in order to protect fire and EMS personnel and experience maximum success in saving civilian lives. These events may play out over an extended period of time, requiring large EMS triage, treatment and transportation efforts, under dangerous and unfamiliar conditions to fire and EMS personnel.

In the interim, USFA offers these universal steps to ensure fire and EMS personnel are best prepared to meet this unique and challenging threat.

The most important action we can take is to determine the lead agency for these incidents. In the vast majority of cases, law enforcement will serve in this capacity. Regardless of lead agency declaration, make contact with local or state law enforcement officials and special operations team leadership to become familiar with their strategies and tactical operations.  Some possible subjects for discussion and planning follow:

There is much more valuable information to be learned from past events and the best practices created by those who have experienced one of these incidents. We encourage you to go to the following sources for more information.

Previous Chief's Corner Entries
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Lessons Learned from a Significant Life Event
9/18/13
A Parent's Homework
8/8/13
2013 International Association of Fire Chiefs Fire-Rescue International Conference
7/24/13
Roadway Risk
6/13/13
International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week
5/15/13
EMS Week 2013 – One Mission One Team
5/3/13
Reflecting on the 40th Anniversary of America Burning
2/11/13
The Etiquette of Being a Fire Chief (by Glenn Gaines, published on the Mu+ual Aid Blog)
1/3/13
The Roles of Fire and EMS Personnel in Armed Attacks
10/26/12
Keeping Kids Safe This Halloween
5/17/12
USFA's Initiatives in EMS
1/9/12
Resolutions for the New Year: Firefighter Health and Wellness
12/1/11
Where We Have Been and Where We Are Today
10/6/11
Not for Prime Time
9/6/11
Tribute to September 11th Heroes
7/26/11
Firefighter Safety in Extreme Heat
6/17/11
The U.S. Fire Administration's Research Program – Science Saving Lives
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USFA - Your Partner in EMS
3/24/11
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Time to Check Your Smoke Alarms
2/09/10
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Reflecting on Tragedy: The Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. Fire
10/6/09
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10/1/09
Smoking Related Fire Fatalities and Fire-Safe Cigarettes
8/4/09
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Links of Interest