GREAT FALLS — Great Falls Fire Rescue, Great Falls Police Department, and Cascade County Sheriff’s Office are joining together and adopting a new protocol to respond to active shooter threats.
This new protocol is called the Rescue Task Force (RTF).
City and County commissioners will be voting on Tuesday and Wednesday to approve the task force.
“We had to have the training so those expectations are figured out, the relationships on what we’re going to do at the scene are figured out, how we run the program, how we organize it how we run it, so that’s important,” said Great Falls Fire Chief Steve Hester on the training from almost two months ago. “If we get that off on the right foot then any incident always goes better towards the end.”
Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter echoed that sentiment, emphasizing that teamwork and cooperation are key to avoiding major disasters in these situations.
“So basically, the fire departments have looked at this task force rescue as a way to mitigate that (unnecessary deaths of victims),” Slaughter said. “It’s amazing the courage that these firemen have because they are willing to go into harm's way to treat these people and rescue these people from these horrific situations. We still do our part, and I’m not going to get into the tactics of the whole situation as the how we deploy these, but the idea means that we are now going to come up with a plan to get advanced medical care to people much faster in these mass casualty situations.”
We’ll have updates on the status of the task force as the commissioners vote this week.
(AUGUST 29, 2019) With RTF training, fire rescue/EMT personnel are teamed up with law enforcement personnel, where law enforcement will allow fire rescue/EMT to enter an active shooter scene earlier in the response.
Jeremy added, “We’ve always staged away from the emergency and waited for law enforcement to bring us the problem, the goal now is to have armed guards bring us into a warm area where we can do good, stop the bleed, help save savable lives that we can but do that securely.”
The main goal for this RTF protocol is to save more lives.
Another organizer of the training, Cascade County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Of Patrol Jason Boyd, said, “As far as law enforcement acts, we want to be there and get the scene safe. The fire guys want to get in and save lives. Now we’re bringing that together and that’s the mission of both.”
By spending several days doing this type of training, they learn new things every day.
First, they learn by switching jobs, so they understand each other’s responsibilities in separate groups. Next, they come together and do a real-life situation with information they just learned. Lastly, they brief on what went well and what went bad.
Although hoping they never have to use the training, they need to be prepared.
“It’s something we want to be prepared for but hope we never have to test,” said Boyd. “If we don’t prepare for it, we’re just sticking our heads in the sand and hoping that it doesn’t happen. At least this way we’re getting prepared. The hope is that, if this happens, which we hope doesn’t, but if it does happen, we can bring this training in and efficiently save lives.”
The RTF training has been a year in the making and is the first of its kind in Great Falls.
This is the first joint command training between the City and the County.