Active shooter events have become a tragic staple of our news cycle. The horrific events in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, amplified this new reality, as many were still processing the first heartbreak when the shocking news of the second incident hit social media and news outlets.
Fire department training and rescue task force deployment
FireRescue1 recently asked the FireRescue1 community, “Does your department train with other agencies for active shooter events?” While 60% of respondents answered “Yes, both EMS and law enforcement,” another 14% answered “Yes, law enforcement.” While these responses show some level of coordination among agencies, it also highlights a significant gap, as more than one-quarter of respondents answered “No.”
FireRescue1 also asked the FireRescue1 community, “Does your department deploy a Rescue Task Force for active shooter events?” The results were near evenly split, with 46% answering “Yes” and 49% answering “No.” Another 3% answered “What’s a Rescue Task Force,” with another 3% answering “Unsure.”
Active shooter stats and resources
The FBI reports there were 250 active shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2017, and 27 designated active shooter incidents in 2018. And the statistics paint a bleak picture for what’s ahead, with the number of incidents typically increasing year over year.
Considering the increasing frequency of these complex and chaotic incidents, fire departments need a formalized response plan – one that’s unified with EMS and police.
There are several active shooter event-related resources firefighters and other first responders can use to help develop such plans:
With the growing focus on the all-hazards mission of the fire service – one that increasingly necessitates working with other agencies – it’s critical that fire departments do everything possible to prepare for the new normal of active shooter events, never assuming that “it can’t happen here.”