News, Terrorism & Active Shooter

Michigan Firefighters, Paramedics Join Police Tactical Teams

Departments prepare fire and EMS crews for active shooting scenes

Nick Monacelli and Natasha Dado, WDIV with permission

GRAYLING, Mich. (WDIV) – There are dangerous situations police officers train for extensively, including executing search warrants, hostage negotiations and active shooters.

But the list of those charged to serve and protect is changing as firefighters and paramedics are now going into the line of fire.

The 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado was a tragedy and a learning opportunity for law enforcement officers across the country.

Since then there have been hundreds of other mass shootings. First responders are now learning delayed medical attention is killing people.

Some communities are preparing firefighters and paramedics to go into dangerous shooting scenes, hoping to save more victims.

If you have ever paid close attention to videos from mass shootings you may have noticed the medical teams are far away in safety areas.

That’s the problem — yes they’re safe — but the victims inside aren’t getting help until the threat is gone.

That is changing. In Shelby Township, the firefighters and paramedics are going in with the cops, even if the threat is still there, because lives are at stake, and they practice methodically. Every situation they encounter will be different.

But for one Shelby Township tactical response unit training at Camp Grayling what’s also different is who’s with them.

Firefighters and paramedics have joined tactical teams, entering situations while the threat is still there.

Firefighter Dennis Brantley says while difficult this is a must.

“This has to happen,” said Brantley. “There’s a big change coming industrywide.”

In the past, medical teams would stage far away until the threat or shooter in the case is gone, but that also means victims who have been shot are bleeding to death.

“We want to get on the patient with our bleeding control measures within a minute or two. They can bleed out in less than a minute,” said Lt. Doug Rose, of the Shelby Township Police Department.

Rose says that care is for victims, police officers, even the suspect.

“It’s very scary — very scary — when you know someone is inside killing and you could be a victim,” said Sgt. Matthew McLean, of the Shelby Township Fire Department.

Fire personnel are also being trained to carry weapons for situations where their lives are in jeopardy.

“Because that is what we signed up for, to save lives. So we may be in a dangerous situation. We’ll have to take care of it. It’s just shifted from bullets instead of fire,” Rose said.

We’re told Shelby Township officers have already put the special training they received in Camp Grayling into practice.

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