On Tuesday, April 2, 2013, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), convened a meeting on “Responding to Mass Casualty Shootings – Strengthening Fire/Law Enforcement/EMS Partnerships.” Over 40 fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services (EMS), and government officials, including representatives of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), came together at the IACP headquarters in Alexandria, Va., to discuss ways to better integrate, coordinate and improve responses to mass casualty shootings. Participants identified the following critical themes as cornerstones of a unified approach that all parties could support:
- Raising awareness on differences in response protocols within the first responder community
- Integrating planning, and training efforts as well as practical exercises across disciplines
- Using NIMS/ICS as the platform for all state and local incident response efforts
- Increasing communication interoperability to ensure an integrated response
- Understanding the value of aggressively responding to active shooter incidents
- Making sure all first responders have the best equipment available
All present agreed that integrated and coordinated planning, policies, training and team building prior to any incident will ensure effective and successful response. Participants also concurred that the lessons learned from events like those in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., can help prepare other agencies for potential future incidents. The IACP, IAFC, DHS and the FBI will continue the work begun at this meeting, working together to create innovative best practices and model strategies for responding to gun violence of all kinds, and in particular mass casualty shootings.