Agencies work together to ensure safety

By Danielle Coots

For the News-Current

BEAVERCREEK — The Beavercreek Police and Fire Departments have teamed up with other local safety agencies in the area to ensure that Greene County citizens can be as safe as possible in the case of active shooter situations.

With all the dangers in the world today, active shooter situations are one danger that can be put at ease when it comes to Greene County and surrounding neighboring communities. That’s because the Beavercreek Police and Fire Departments have teamed up with other localities to ensure they have the best teams possible to handle the unexpected.

The US Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.”

Since active shooter situations tend to last 10-15 minutes — sometimes before the police and fire departments arrive — it’s imperative for the individuals inside the “danger zone” to help minimize the threat or get to safety until help arrives, according to officials. In addition, police and EMS officials have been trained to to take steps to eliminate the threat and help the individuals involved.

“Everything started to change in 1999 after the Columbine High School shooting,” City of Dayton Senior Paramedic MMRS/RMRS Program Director David Gerstner said. “At that time, law enforcement did exactly what they were trained to do — contain the scene and call in special teams. So, they called SWAT and hostage negotiators. But, in the meantime, the shooters continued to kill students and teachers. Kids actually put a sign in the window stating that one was bleeding to death — they were begging for help.”

The first responding police officers will not stop to help injured individuals or deal with fatalities, as their main goal is to stop the threat. However, Fire and EMS officials have developed a Rescue Task Force, which is different than anything they’ve been trained on in the past. It was designed to get the EMS teams to the injured faster and provide treatment while the police are attempting to take out the threat.

The Beavercreek Police Department is one of the local forces that have implemented the Single Officer Response Active Shooting Situation (SORAT) response system.

The police and fire departments train and practice situations with each other and other entities in the community, such as hospitals, schools and business, to ensure that every person in each situation knows their part and responsibilities so everyone can rely on each other, according to Gerstner.

Law enforcement officials say companies and businesses also need to develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP). Training is available through the police and fire departments. Companies can also allow local law enforcement, emergency responders, K-9 teams, the bomb squad and SWAT teams to use their facilities for training purposes.

“At one time, our training consisted of instructing residents to play dead in an active shooter situation,” Xenia Township Fire Chief Dean Fox said during a recent board of trustees meeting. “But, now it’s been said that the shooters are going back for the kill. So, run, hide, fight.”

“After the Columbine shooting, the tactics changed; after the Sandy Hook Elementary school incident, it changed again,” Former Beavercreek Police Officer Eric Grile said. “Now, don’t wait for the 9-1-1 call to be made or the police to show up before taking action. Doing nothing seems to be a fatal decision.”

It’s geared at keeping everyone safe.

“We, of the Beavercreek Police Department, are committed to work in partnership with our community, to safeguard life and property while ensuring the rights of all people, and thereby enhancing the quality of life for our citizens,” Chief Dennis Evers said.

Gerstner said the training is a worthwhile effort.

“I have every confidence that if this happens here, it will work — it will help and it will save lives,” he said.

For more information or to schedule your businesses to develop a strategic plan, contact your local police or fire department.

Danielle Coots is a freelance writer for Greene County News.

Danielle Coots is a freelance writer for Greene County News.