Over the last year, the Maryland-National Capital Emergency Response System (MDERS) has supported the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) and Prince George’s County Fire Department (PGFD) in their effort to integrate response capabilities for active violence incidents. The cohesion between PGPD and PGFD has created a Rescue Task Force designed to enable medical care to victims near a threat while maintaining a robust security posture. MDERS has supported this initiative with personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders. The totality of this effort will enhance response efforts to active violence incidents in Prince George’s County.
An active violence incident involves an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area (Northwestern University, 2023). These incidents are often dynamic and can evolve rapidly, demanding immediate action from law enforcement and fire/rescue/EMS resources. During an active violence incident, fire/rescue/EMS providers are often faced with the issue of waiting for victims to be extracted from warm and hot zones, prior to beginning medical care. The delay of medical intervention can be fatal for victims confined in these zones.
The urgency to remove and treat victims requires a unified response from law enforcement and fire/rescue/EMS personnel. Nationally, Rescue Task Force (RTF) training has been established to create this unity amongst disciplines to create a cohesive extrication of victims in life-threating circumstances, leading to the Prince George’s County Police and Fire Department recently adopting this practice.
The Rescue Task Force training empowers Prince George’s County first responders in active violence situations by creating realistic scenarios to build structure and confidence. MDERS staff visited PGPD’s state-of-the-art training facility during their police in-service RTF training to observe the session. Establishing command, mitigating threats, and organizing casualty collection points (CCP) are all key components in RTF training and require teamwork from all personnel on scene. MDERS observed the ability of 45 participants, including 10 fire/rescue/EMS present and 35 police officers, in back-to-back scenarios to maintain focus and agility in rescue operations while being met with obstacles and learning to overcome strenuous conditions. The operational coordination that is required to assess the situation and plan for action was proven throughout these exercises by each department.
MDERS Acting Co-Director, and Deputy Director of Finance & Administration, Lauren Collins expressed the following:
- “I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the collaborative efforts of Prince George’s County Police and Fire/EMS departments as they joined forces to engage in comprehensive Rescue Task Force (RTF) training. The dedication and substantial investments made by the Maryland Emergency Response System (MDERS) in the RTF program were unmistakably evident throughout this training session, and it was gratifying to see these endeavors manifest into a successful reality.”
In an effort to enhance preparedness, MDERS assisted PGPD with procuring tactical vests and a variety of ballistic protection equipment for PGFD. The acquired ballistic protection allows fire/rescue/EMS personnel the ability to deploy inside warm zones to treat and extract potentially critical patients while protecting providers from injury. Medical supplies can also be attached to tactical vests for easy access to essential medical supplies. The PPE allows first responders to execute their mission more safely in dangerous situations.
Active violence incidents are a growing threat to the Maryland-National Capital Region that involves the interoperability of police, fire, rescue, and EMS personnel to increase the response effectiveness to mass causality incidents. The RTF training is an indispensable resource for Prince George’s County, structuring first responders to work as a unified team.
Active violence: Emergency management – Northwestern University. Active Violence: Emergency Management – Northwestern University. (2023). Retrieved from https://www.northwestern.edu/emergency-management/how-you-can-prepare/active-violence.html#:~:text=An%20active%20violence%20incident%20involves,a%20vehicle%20into%20a%20crowd