RED OAK

First responders from around the area joined together to put weeks of training into action on Friday morning. The Red Oak and Glenn Heights Police and Fire Departments and Red Oak ISD Police tested its new approach on how to handle an active shooter situation.

The new approach involves firefighters going into a scene that still has the potential for danger to crop up as part of a rescue task force. Police would escort firefighters in protecting them as they provided care and evacuated the wounded to safety. Firefighters would be equipped with body armor and a backpack with medical supplies but not armed.

Red Oak Fire Chief Eric Thompson stated he felt the training was very successful and has brought a lot of people together.

“It is good that everyone is having conversations together and everyone is planning together. We had a terrific observer turnout with the area school districts,” Thompson said. “There were a lot of good questions after the drill. We were able to talk to school administrations, superintendents, and other ISD police chiefs about what we thought went well and what we are adding to it.”

Thompson continued the new equipment that firefighters are using such as body armor, and the trauma kits are working out very well.

Traditionally firefighters and medical personnel would wait for law enforcement officers to secure the area. Then they would enter to aid people who might be hurt.

Red Oak Police Chief Garland Wolf stated the rescue task force is critical in providing care to the wounded. He shared that Friday’s exercise has been successful.

“I think that it is a great exercise that is going on right now. It is a good collaboration amongst agencies,” Wolf said. “We are putting in place some resources at the end of the day are going to save lives.”

Wolf stated this training could be used at any location and it is not just limited to a school. He noted bringing everyone together to test this new model has worked out well.

The FBI website reported there was 220 active shooter incidents in the country between 2000 -2016. From these incidents, 661 people were killed, and 825 were wounded. The agency found from 2000-2013 that 11.4 active shooter incidents occurred annually.

Red Oak ISD Police Chief Kevin Denney stated the results from Friday’s exercise is encouraging, but there is always room for improvement. He noted the event’s overall success was due to people working together.

“This is a great opportunity for the different law enforcement and fire department entities to come together to see each other and go through a mutual training,” Denney said. “It makes the community safer. It makes the school district safer.”

Glenn Heights Deputy Police Chief Vernell Dooley stated the use of the rescue task force model allows first responders to prepare for a developing and changing emergency. It gives them the tools on how to work with each other and how to coordinate efforts to save lives.

We have two Red Oak ISD schools in our city limits. So we know that if a situation does occur, we will show up, but there will also be a Red Oak ISD officer as well. That is what prompted us to be there and to plan further,” Dooley stated. “Partnering with the school district is imperative. It is for the benefit of the students and has to happen.”

Glenn Heights Deputy Fire Chief Keith Moore shared Dooley’s feelings about the day's events and what it means for the future.

“We a smaller agency, and we can’t handle this type of situation alone. We have to rely on assistance from our counterparts. What better way to come out here and practice this together,” Moore said. “So if this actual situation does occur we are ready and prepared for it and can work things ahead of time.