Firefighters train for active shooter scenario

(file photo)

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Grandville Fire Chief Mike May knows that world events could hit close to home. He’s well aware of the need for a swift response should a mass shooting happen at a large gathering place in the community he protects.

“Take RiverTown Crossings Mall for an example. With an active shooter in that building it would take hours — eight to 12 hours — to declare that building officially safe,” May said. “We learned that in Columbine. In that situation, they sat and waited for special teams to arrive, special teams and SWAT teams and tactical medical teams, and in the meantime people bled to death.”

With that in mind, firefighters in Grandville and Kentwood have started training on how to respond to active shooter incidents. They’re working with police on how to go into a situation where a large number of victims may need help.

“The fire services role would be to extract the victims once the scene has been made reasonably safe by law enforcement,” May said.

The key term there is “reasonably safe” — any shooting would have stopped but others dangers like secondary explosive devices could exist. That’s the kind of thing medics and firefighters previously waited to confirm before going in.

“We’re trying to take chaos and bring some structure to the chaos,” Kentwood Deputy Fire Chief Greg Ginebaugh explained.

Those dangers go well beyond malls; well beyond the city and suburbs. So they are trying to get fire departments throughout Kent County to participate.

“We’ve met with the area police chiefs and area fire chiefs. Now we’re at the point of, in January, we’re going to bring all those agencies together and actually present the rescue task force model to them,” Ginebaugh said. “It can happen anywhere at any time. We just want all the agencies around us to be ready. ”

If you want to learn more about the rescue task force concept, including how it has evolved in recent years, check out these links:

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