Hill AFB first responders learn new skills to save lives during hostile events
By Todd Cromar 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 05, 2020
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --
Each year, communities around the world face tragedies due to active shooter/hostile events, forcing emergency responders to prepare for any number of worst case scenarios in order to save lives.
At Hill Air Force Base, security forces defenders and fire and emergency medical services (EMS) responders are preparing by embracing a tactic called the Rescue Task Force, or RTF.
With the RTF model, the decision to move in and provide emergency medical intervention is assessed much sooner during an incident involving gun violence. A “task force” or integrated team of security forces and fire EMTs/AEMTs move in together to provide immediate protection and basic medical care to victims.
“Fire and law enforcement have always worked together during emergency incidents, but rarely to this extent and never directly physically attached to one another as an operational team,” said Jeff Herriott, assistant fire chief in charge of special operations for Hill AFB’s fire and emergency services.
In the past, fire/EMS responders were trained to “lock-down” in place or “hold short” of an area involving an active shooter/hostile event until it was proven to be clear of all threats.
Only after receiving verification from security forces that the scene was secure would they depart to the location to treat and remove those who were injured. Unfortunately, this could result in loss of life.
“At its roots, Rescue Task Force is simply moving a small group of responders inside a facility or threat area under dedicated protection solely to provide earlier life-saving interventions, with the goal of increasing survivability,” Herriott said. “Time is life. The earlier we get to the injured and provide immediate interventions, their chances of survival increase exponentially.”
In addition to their medical gear, fire/EMS responders will be outfitted similar to security forces with specialized protective equipment designed specifically for active shooter/hostile events including a ballistic vest, tactical helmet, and other equipment.
“Arriving on scene and deploying as early as possible, with a pre-planned, coordinated and trained response, will undoubtedly give critically injured victim’s, the absolute best chance for survival under the most grave of circumstances,” Herriott said. “The goal is immediate access with quicker evacuation and transport to definitive care in order to limit the loss of life.”