TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. - Police and fire rescue crews in Temple Terrace teamed up for the first time Tuesday for a multi-agency active shooter training.
The police and fire departments nailed down how first responders will play a role in better responding to mass casualties after seeing the aftermath of the Columbine and Parkland shootings.
The agencies traditionally train separately, but decided to train together to learn how to better communicate on a scene. They trained all day at Florida College with role-players as victims and shooters.
“We're using these rescue task forces. We've got the two officers and the two medics that are going in there,” said Joe Cable, a training officer with the Temple Terrace Fire Department.
They went through how to move from one space to the next to clear the area of a threat and help the injured.
“They're talking face to face, not over radio, and they are able to see things, communicate things to move into locations and work as a team,” said Cable.
The training comes just days after Temple Terrace gave firefighters and paramedics bulletproof vests, helmets and medical go-bags.
“This is just one more tool that we can put on as medics to put ourselves in that situation, that if something does happen whether it's a bullet fired or an explosive that goes off, we have protection,” said Cable.
The department is joining other Tampa Bay area departments beefing up protection for those saving lives. And statewide a new law goes into effect July 1 allowing paramedics to be armed in high-risk situations. It’s all part of the changing landscape of being a first responder.
When there are only seconds to spare, training with role players allows officers to take notes on what they see and hear on the inside.
“I think that's probably the biggest takeaway that our officers are going to take away from this training is how vital communication is. How vital it is that they relay information, and they paint a picture for those officers coming in behind them,” said Bernard Seeley, an instructor with the Temple Terrace Police Department. “This needs to continue. We need to continue to build on it. We need to continue to expand it.”
The officers and firefighters are also learning how to coordinate things like ambulance exchanges and where to send the injured.
Temple terrace police and fire will run more training scenarios on Thursday.