The National Center for Biomedical Research and Training taught nearly 40 emergency responders this week on how to handle an active shooter situation. The three-day course began with lectures, but increasingly became more hands on and cumulated with an active shooting simulation. The center, which partners with the Department of Homeland Security, is housed at Louisiana State University but provides trainings all over the country free of charge.
Fire Chief Bob Painter applied for the training to come to Homer.
"Everybody knows if you've read the paper or listened to the news that active shooter events are becoming more frequent and we need to know how to respond to those," he said.
Painter said the way officers think about active shooter situations has evolved over time. In the past, police officers would neutralize the threat first while firefighters and EMT would standby until the situation was safe. Now, fire fighters and EMT go inside along with the armed forces.
"We still want to protect our crews and EMS providers that are primarily volunteer in Homer but we also realize that in an evolving situation that somebody that's shot and bleeding from an artery doesn't have time for the scene to be completely secured and maybe to be 100 percent safe," he said. "So we have to learn how to do it safely but more efficiently and quicker."
Jason Krause, the associate director of operations at the center, said this takes a lot of teamwork.
"Even though there are some very specific technical skills taught in this class as far as you know different types of emerging medical techniques or room clearing techniques for law enforcement, the most important and overall thread through the whole thing is the interagency coordination and the communication," he said.
Homer Firefighter Chris Cushman believes this type of training will improve emergency response. He said he hasn't received training before on interagency communication and this helps him realize "how we can keep bettering ourselves to help do the job quicker and to get the injured people out faster."