In Boca Raton, police and fire officials train for catastrophe

sfl-boca-fire-police-trainingBy Brett Clarkson

City police and fire-rescue officials say they want to be ready for the worst — and they want to be ready together.

With civilians being targeted in mass shootings and terrorist attacks happening across the country and around the world, they say it’s vital that first responders develop a plan. Specifically, a plan to better integrate the police mission of securing a crime scene with the fire-rescue task of treating the wounded.

With that objective in mind, about 50 senior officials with four agencies based in Boca met Tuesday and Wednesday to train for something they hope they’ll never have to face: a mass shooting.

“We have to be prepared,” said Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander.

Senior law enforcement officials like Alexander understand that every passing minute could be the difference between life and death for wounded victims.

But a mass casualty scene is bound to be chaotic, with police needing time to confirm that the threat has been eliminated while waiting fire-rescue workers are losing vital moments in treating the wounded.

This week’s training — overseen by three instructors from Cutting Edge Training, a police and military training firm based in Bellingham, Wash. — focused on how to merge two basic goals: police facilitating fire crews’ safe access to patients more quickly, and fire crews adapting their practices in such emergencies.

“The point is, we have to get fire-rescue personnel into the treatment mode sooner, and we need to do it in a safe way,” Alexander said.

Along with Boca Raton police and fire-rescue, security and police personnel from Lynn University and Florida Atlantic University also attended the training.

Trainer George Williams cited the so-called Hillsboro Model, which was developed by police and fire officials in Hillsboro, Ore.

“It enables the police to rapidly interdict the suspect’s killing spree while ensuring fire [rescue personnel] can treat and transport all ‘Immediate Critical’ victims within 45 minutes of the initial 911 call,” says Cutting Edge’s website.

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