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What I did on my summer vacation. "A Homework Assignment"

I know it’s been a while since my last post and yes – for those of you that liked the search posts there are more to come.

I have been working on a few projects that have taken time from me, and will continue to do so for most of the summer. However, I do have an assignment for you.  (Hence the title of the blog.)

School is out.  Where I live, it doesn’t start back till August 28th.  So!  Here is what I want you all to do. “Make a Plan”.  Figure out what you are going to do if you are first due at a school shooting. Sadly enough, these are becoming the new norm for us.  Don’t wait till you catch the tone over the radio and here your dispatcher say “Engine 5 (substitute with your apparatus unit number here), respond to shots fired at Arlington Elementary school, 700 Toronto (again substitute with a school in your district here)”. 

Several years ago, I did a “Round Table” question for the magazine (Fire Engineering) and asked the question “You are dispatched to a report of a shooting in the school in your district.  You arrive first before the police,  and kids and teachers run up to your apparatus (which is staged at the intersection) and tell you there are kids shot and laying in the hall right inside the door.”  What would you do? No really – what would you do?  Most of you (because of smaller departments in rural America which is the majority of first responders) respond to schools where your children or grandchildren attend or you know the families of children who go to that school.  You listen, no sirens to be heard. What would you do?

Before you answer just consider this?  Every department should have a Risk Policy. In fact in many states, that is the law (mine included).  We generally think of a risk policy as it relates to fires. The National Fire Academies Risk Policy is simple yet very effective and often copied: 

We will take great risk to save life

We will take some risk to save property and

We will risk nothing for life or property already lost

Does the above policy only apply to fires??????

To start you can go to the link below. Its Fire Engineering’s web page. I searched “active shooter” and there are at least 5 pages of links to articles and other writing on active shooters.

Talk about this with your crew and your officer. Talk about this with your Chief (Battalion or whatever).  Then develop a plan. If your department already has a policy, discuss it – practice it – follow it! If you think the policy already in existence is wrong, do what you can to get it changed (thru proper channels). But till then, follow it.  Do it before the tone goes off. 

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