How first responders are trained to handle an active shooter sit - WNEM TV 5

How first responders are trained to handle an active shooter situation

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Former Deputy Scot Peterson resigned after his sheriff accused him of improperly following protocol, but Peterson’s attorney said the one-time “school resource officer of the year” didn’t go inside because the echoes made it sound like the gunfire was happening outside.

But TV5 investigated to learn exactly what police are supposed to do in an active shooter situation.

“What people don’t always consider is echoes and areas that the gunfire could be coming from,” said Thomas Mynsberge. 

Mynsberge is a former State Police Officer and SWAT Officer, who now works crisis management for Saginaw area school districts.

The aftermath of a mass shooting tends to raise more questions than answers, usually over gun control or mental health.

But after the Parkland shooting in Florida, several eyes have turned towards the first responders, especially after it was revealed a resources officer at the school didn’t go in to confront the gunman.

Mynsberge said it’s not always as simple as running after the bad guy.

“It is not as clear-cut, where the bullets might be coming from and especially I believe they have a lot of open areas out there,” Mynsberge said. “Which can give an echo off a building which you might think the gunman’s in a different area.”

Mynsberge believes the active shooter situation in Florida was handled well by police.

But he also believes a lack of coordination with paramedics may have led to a delay in response, which is an issue he hopes to resolve within Saginaw.

“You know we’ve included medical, we’ve included fire and rescues so that we can for one thing coordinate activities to take out the gunman,” Mynsberge said.

Mynsberge said that the first responders here in Saginaw County, are actually far better coordinated than many places within the country.

“The beauty of Saginaw County is we’ve got a total commitment from police, fire, and even medical, to make sure that we’re on top of the game for that and we practice frequently with it,” Mynsberge said.

Local paramedics and firefighters are also trained to face an armed assault.

"We coordinate our response with the rest of emergency services," said Jay Cooper, who works at Medical Mobile Response.

Saginaw's MMR team is trained to handle many things, including active shooters. 

Those situations require a great deal of cooperation between law enforcement and EMT's.

Cooper said during any active shooter situation, their first job is to establish operations off scene and then remain in constant contact with police who are on scene waiting for the signal to send in paramedics.

"That doesn't necessarily mean that the shooter has stopped or the shooter is in custody," Cooper said. "But what it does mean is that they have a secure enough path for us to get to the injured folks and then get them out."

During these mass shootings, it's not just important to have an emergency medical response, but also a plan for evacuation.

"So we have predetermined road blockings," Cooper said. "Things like that that occur. 9-1-1 helps coordinate those a great deal, and it really works. And we practice it so we know it works."

However during any active shooter situation, the unexpected is what they're trained to do.

"The way that we're able to work through that is because we do see each other so much," Cooper said. "Whether it's in meetings where we're talking about it or at practice drills, we already know the people we're going to interact with. And all those people are good at thinking on their feet, and solving problems."

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