- Associated Press - Friday, December 25, 2015

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) - Volunteer first responders in Sheboygan County have begun training to treat victims of mass shooting situations more quickly to improve chances of survival should a worse-case scenario happen locally.

The new Rescue Task Force being formed in Sheboygan County is in response to lessons learned by law enforcement during tragic mass shooting incidents in Fort Hood, Texas, and in Columbine and Aurora, Colorado.

“From each one of these tragedies, there has been a specific and important lesson learned,” Doug Tuttle, a patrol sergeant with the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office, said. “Columbine was the idea that securing a parameter and waiting for SWAT doesn’t work anymore. That had been in place since 1966. At the Navy Yard (near Washington, D.C.), the idea of staging and better organization (was learned). You have all this help, but if you don’t have communication and aren’t feeding it to the right locations, (emergency responders) are just running around and not progressing the situation forward.”

A shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, highlighted a different problem: lack of immediate medical care for victims of the shooting. Traditionally, emergency medical services only enter a scene after it has been deemed “clear” by law enforcement, which can take a considerable amount of time in an active shooter situation, time the victims of the shootings do not have.

Sheboygan Press (https://shebpr.es/1QsGlF8 ) reports the Rescue Task Force aims to address that need with volunteer first responders wearing bulletproof vests and ballistic helmets who will be specially trained to enter a danger zone with a police escort to treat victims.

“Our job is to stop the killing, but then the job’s not over. That’s only part of the problem,” Tuttle said. “The other part, to be blunt, is to stop the bleeding and stop the dying. That’s where the Rescue Task Force comes in. The cops stop the killing, the RTF goes in to stop the bleeding.”

Sheboygan County is at the “tip of the spear” in terms of developing such a task force, Terry Cram, a staff sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office, said. Larger metro areas across the country have developed similar task forces using full-time EMS and firefighters, but Cram said it is rare to develop a task force in a more rural setting using volunteer first responders.

“We don’t want people to be terrified. We just want people to know that we are trying to get ready in the event that something like that comes here,” Cram said.

The task force is volunteer-based - and so far approximately 50 individuals from across the county have signed up to begin the training.

“I think it is absolutely the right way to go,” Randy Lawrence, a member of the Elkhart Lake First Responders, said. “In a lot of these situations, people died due to lack of access to care. They survive the shooting, but by the time EMS gets to them - due to scene safety - they die anyway.”

Task force members will be specially trained in medical procedures similar to combat care. Rather than stay with the victim, as they are trained to do when responding to car accidents, first responders on the task force will be trained to provide life-saving care, such as applying a tourniquet or opening an airway, then move on to the next victim.

“The training, in terms of level of care, will be very basic,” Mike Mooney, a volunteer with Glenbeulah First Responders, said. “You would not do CPR on the patient. You’re going to do the minimal to stabilize them and move on to the next, whereas on a normal EMS call, you don’t abandon the patient - you stay with them.”

When responding to a situation as a task force, first responders would meet at a staging point to receive gear - a helmet, bullet-proof jacket, and first aid equipment - before being escorted by law enforcement officers into a “warm zone,” an area that has been initially cleared by police, but potentially could become a “hot zone” again if a shooter returns.

The task force has already begun training, and Cram said he hopes it will be operational by April 2016.

The task force, officially called MABAS Division 113 Rescue Task Force, is seeking monetary donations to be able to purchase medical and protective equipment for the members.


Information from: Sheboygan Press Media, https://www.sheboygan-press.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide