- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Omaha firefighters are training in body armor so they can help police with crime scenes when they’re needed to save lives.

Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1WJ5daQ ) reports that Omaha’s fire and police departments have teamed up to form a “rescue task force” to simultaneously respond in the event of a mass shooting or another situation with multiple victims.

“We have to train for the extreme,” said Officer Devin Crinklaw, who is leading the effort at the police and fire training academy. “Ultimately, to see citizens die less often. … that is the goal.”

The training began in January and will continue through the end of March. Nearly every firefighter and police officer will complete the training, which goes toward their state-mandated continuing education requirements.

Forty firefighters and police officers went through four hours of physical training and classroom education Tuesday. Training included learning how to apply tourniquets to themselves and others.

Dr. Craig Jacobus, an emergency medical services instructor at Metro Community College, taught the group how to use a tourniquet and explained why many doctors think police and firefighters should carry them.

He said the experiences of combat medics in Afghanistan and Iraq have showed the value of tourniquets, especially when time is short.

“Any injury can be devastating,” Jacobus told the group. “But we try to do the very best we can to stop the bleeding.”

The group also practiced going into a volatile situation with protective vests and helmets. The gear is going to be included to the city’s ambulances and firetrucks.

In the past, paramedics and firefighters haven’t been able to enter an area until police had gone in and secured the scene, said Assistant Fire Chief Shane Hunter. This meant bleeding and injured victims had to wait for help.

“We can’t wait hours while people are in the corridor dying while we’re waiting for bad guys with guns to be removed,” Hunter said.

Nicki Mitchell, a firefighter and paramedic, said the body armor and the training will help her do her job.

“Now we can be in the ‘hot zone,’ ” Mitchell said. “Prior to this training, we could only be in the ‘cold zone.’”


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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