A Wisconsin fire department will now provide its personnel with ballistic protective equipment to use when they respond to an active shooter situation.
The Franklin fire department was able to use money from its 2015 budget and purchase the equipment for its personnel to use. It’s in response to what the police chief Rick Oliva noted as a “paradigm shift” for personnel with the fire department – they must, from time to time, be involved in a live scene.
Fire Chief Adam Remington said people see what’s happening in various areas of the country… in what happens to be an everyday scenario. He said before Columbine, fire departments would maintain their distance and get involved during the aftermath. He said the problem from that stems from people dying from their injuries.
He said after the most recent mass shooting cases – Paris and San Bernardino – both fire and police departments realized that medical and fire personnel needed to get involved in a possible unsecured shooter situation – not wait for the all-clear from police.
Remington said personnel won’t go in with bullets flying and they won’t enter a scene without police escorting them. He said the police department is the one carrying guns; they’re the ones experienced and trained. He said their attention is on the injured – the patients who need help getting out and treated.
The fire department did have some BPE gear already, the new buys ensures that everybody responding will have their own ballistic protective equipment and helmets.
Mayor Steve Olson said nobody would have thought there would be a mass shooter in the Oak Creek area, noting the 2012 Sikh Temple Shooting. He said the paramedic units were also on scene, not long after the Oak Creek police units were.
Both Remington and Oliva said the buying of extra gear prepares them for the future. Looking at where these things are happening – Oak Creek and Brookfield – they got similar demographics has Franklin.
Remington said he’s no expert for mass-casualty or active shooter events, but most times they don’t take place in impoverished communities. An active shooter simulation was held in October with several Milwaukee-area fire and police departments. The Greenfield Police Department hosted the event and took place at the Milwaukee State Fairgrounds.
Oliva said more active shooter trainings is liable to take place in 2016.