WALLINGFORD — For the first time, the Police and Fire departments are training together on how to respond to an active shooter situation.
On Tuesday, the two departments practiced getting medical crews into “warm zones” — areas cleared by police, but still potentially dangerous.
The joint training builds “the trust relationship” among emergency responders from both departments, Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Czentnar said.
“In this environment, we have no control over the aggressor,” Czentnar said. “We’re relying completely on the Police Department” to help medical crews get in, treat trauma victims and remove them from the scene.
Police Chief William Wright said including the Fire Department this year is “a watershed moment in public safety.”
“It is yet another example of how this community is prepared to respond to an incident of this type whether it’s in a school setting, in a business setting in one of our industrial parks, or even in an outdoor environment,” Wright said.
Last year, police officers went through full-day training at Pond Hill School and Moran Middle School. It was the first time the Police Department performed active shooter training.
The training this week runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at Sheehan High School. The activities should be all indoors, Wright said, adding there are some signs posted outside announcing the training.
About 75 police personnel, from administrators to patrol officers, and more than 60 firefighters, almost the whole career-side staff, are slated to participate in shifts during the course of the week.
The training includes a tactical medical session called Stop the Bleed, conducted by a certified police officer with help from Z-Medica, a Wallingford-based company.
Live role players with pre-determined injuries run, shout and moan, and dummies that act as deceased victims are used in different scenarios.
The role players are volunteers from the town Health Department’s Medical Reserve Corps.
Police Sgt. Joseph Cafasso said the psychological aspect of emergency response is covered, as well.
“They have to process very quickly what’s going on,” he said. In an active shooter situation, “you have more innocent people than people that we’re trying to stop, so you’ve got to deal with all that coming at you. Part of our scenarios put our officers into that mindset.”
Fire Lt. Aaron Desjardins said the training is a chance to practice using new equipment and devices, and also see if the equipment is adequate and deploys well and if devices work well.
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