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Preparing for the worst: Fort Wayne fire teams ready for active shooter situations

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – It’s a nightmare scenario that every city hopes it never has to confront.

We’re talking about an active shooter storming a school or workplace.

While authorities in Orlando Florida are facing criticism for their response to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016, Fort Wayne fire officials are working to make sure they can deliver medical aid to potential victims without a hitch.

20 city firefighters at any one time can be outfitted with bullet proof vests and everything from tourniquets to packing gauze in a mass shooting incident.

Instead of waiting outside until the shooter is killed or captured before delivering aid– the traditional way of responding to such events– Fort Wayne rescue task force team members now accompany police officers into areas deemed safe by police– warm zones– where they provide immediate care to victims with a chance to survive.

Follow up teams come in behind and move those victims to a safer place for more extensive treatment.

“Since Columbine High School, we’ve learned some lessons about the value of treating people quickly. That golden hour they talk about, is to keep people alive,” said Fort Wayne Fire Department Deputy Chief Adam O’Connor.

National Public Radio did an investigation into the public safety response to the June 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, and found it did not measure up.

The report raised concerns about delays in getting help to victims in the incident, where 49 people died.

The report found that the city’s Fire Department had been working on a plan for that kind of scenario for three years, but it was not adequately put in force the night chaos erupted.

In the spring of 2017, emergency responders in Fort Wayne got a chance to test out a new approach to mass shooting rescues, and it happened at Ravenscroft Beauty College.

A gunman, upset about a woman who would not date him, fired shots in the building, injuring two people, before turning the gun on himself.

“With the equipment we have, we’re actually able to go in while the area is still considered warm, and render care to people that we otherwise would have had to wait to go in and get,” said Doug Krawczyk, a rescue task force team member.


Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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