EP 66 Spotlight On The Revolutionary Active Shooter Incident Management

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Spotlight On The Revolutionary Active Shooter Incident Management


[ADAM PENDLEY] And so, what we’re trying to do is change that mindset that fire and EMS, while nothing is ever 100% safe, law enforcement can provide a level of protection, they can establish warm zones, they can establish corridors and escorts for rescue task forces to come down and start doing the life-saving.


[TODD DEVOE] Hi, and welcome to the EM Weekly show, and this is your host, Todd DeVoe, speaking. And today, we are exploring the active shooter training program that (inaudible 00:00:46.09) and the ODP has sponsored. And this program uses computers and interactive simulation to get you and your team really into the mindset and into the action. And this program is really kind of cool because it’s not just, you know, you’re not sitting on the computer all day long when I talk about the simulation. It really is getting your team responding to an active shooter situation, so you could tactically-minded response, both the law enforcement, fire, and EMS dispatch as well. And it also has a component of command and control in there to where you are, either in the incident command post or at some point, for the large-scale event, you end up in the EOC. So, it’s really kind of cool how they put this together.

However, before we get into this, I do have a question that was sent to me via Ask Todd on the EM Weekly webpage, and it came from this gentleman, Bill, from Massachusetts, and he asked about power companies’ response teams to disasters. And Bill, I can only talk about Southern California Edison, with any kind of authority. And what I mean by that is that I’ve worked with these guys and girls before. So, basically, they have a really good program set up here, to where they have teams that go out all hours of the night when called out to respond to fires, windstorms, and other power outages that happen. And they all go to your EOC as well, depending on where it is and how big of an issue it is, whether they’re up at the county level or as a local level, it depends on the event. But they really are responsive to your needs.

So, I’m assuming that the other companies out there have that; I don’t know for a fact. But Southern California Edison does a great job at it. And you know what? That just reminded me that I guess I’m going to have to seek out somebody from Southern California Edison and invite them to be on the show. So, anyway, thanks for the question, Bill, and I do appreciate it. And if anybody out there has any questions let me know, and I’ll either find out about it, or I’ll let you know when I know the answer. So now, let’s talk about active shooter training.

Hi, this is Todd DeVoe with EM Weekly and welcome to where we’re at right now. So today, I have with me…

[ADAM PENDLEY] Adam Pendley.

[TODD DEVOE] And Adam is part of a training (inaudible 00:03:04.15) that I’m actually here taking a class. I started talking to him, and I was like, “Wow, this is somebody who needs to share some information with EM Weekly.” And it’s on the response to an active shooter, and this class has some interesting paradigm shifts that I’m still trying to get my head around a little bit. And so, Adam will be here to talk about that. So Adam, welcome to EM Weekly.

[ADAM PENDLEY] Thank you.

[TODD DEVOE] So tell me a little bit about yourself first and then we’ll get into your company.

[ADAM PENDLEY] Sure. My name is, again, Adam Pendley. I work as an Assistant Chief for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, which is in Florida. I have almost 25 years of law enforcement experience. I started, actually, as a communications officer at dispatch and made my way through patrol ranks, until I was appointed as assistant chief of police services, and currently, I’m in charge of communications, 911 center, our body camera program, and some other things.

But what brings me here is I’m also an instructor for a company called C3 Pathways, and they have a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security to deliver an active shooter incident management course, and that’s what brings us out to California for this delivery here in the beautiful Southern California San Diego area.

[TODD DEVOE] So, obviously, over the last few years, especially since Columbine, we’ve seen a shift, specifically in law enforcement, on how we respond to the active shooter. Went from the idea of waiting for the SWAT team to come before officers engaged, and then we went with first-on-first in concept. And that’s kind of where we’re responding to now. But one of the issues that we all know, and it’s not just for an active shooter but some other situations as well, but you have that congestion of everybody showing up to the scene, vehicles all over the place. It takes a little bit for us to get our hands wrapped around what was going on before we have control over the scene.

So, your training is trying to shift that idea of the everybody respond to the gunfire too, some people respond to the gunfire, but then everybody else responds to a staging area. Talk about that process, how you guys got there.

[ADAM PENDLEY] So, I think one of the main shifts that has helped us get to the point we’re at now is applying some strategy to these incredibly complex events. Law enforcement has done a fantastic job across the country adapting as new incidents have created a need for new tactics. And you bring out Columbine, and of course, that was a huge paradigm shift from this idea that patrol officers would just surround a scene and call for special weapons and tactics, and they would come in and solve the problem. We realized early on, as law enforcement, that some more rapid intervention is necessary.

So, lots of training was geared towards rapid intervention, that all law enforcement officers should insert into the scene, track down the active threat, and neutralize that threat. Then, as that training was put into practice in the field, just like you bring up, you find that too many officers are trying to do that one task. And we have to remember that this is an incredibly complex event, and it requires some management and some strategy to make sure that yes, you certainly need a good number of law enforcement officers to address that initial active threat. But there’s many more responsibilities that are happening simultaneously, and one of the things that we focus on is this idea of addressing that active threat, but then, we have folks that need to be rescued as well and brought out of harm’s way, and the injured to be treated, and then some additional clearing that has to happen.

So in order to do that, you have to apply some strategy, which involves having some initial teams go in, having kind of the fifth arriving officer to take a role of managing everyone else that’s going to move in. And some may need to go around to a different entrance; some may need to cut down access to the stairwells, some may need to worry about establishing a casualty collection point. That way, you have multiple tasks happening simultaneously.

[TODD DEVOE] So, one of the things that, you know, with law enforcement and fire, we kind of tease fire a little bit about of this, as the idea of staging the way. You know, call comes in, it’s a violence call, and they’re over at the 7/11 having coffee until we call them in, right? Just joking, fire. But this has changed that idea as well too. So now, we’re seeing fire really happily so, going in with law enforcement support into warm zones. Not to say they’re hot zones, but definitely into areas that they probably wouldn’t have gone in the past. Can you talk a little bit about that change in the mindset with fire?

[ADAM PENDLEY] Sure. And that’s a mindset that, across the country, we’re moving in the right direction, but definitely still needs some work. And one of the things we talk about in this material is the fact that, you know, for active shooter events, historically, statistically, they actually get safer as time goes by. As law enforcement goes on scene, the threat is neutralized, law enforcement across the country does a very good job of neutralizing the threat. And the threat level to those follow-on responders actually goes down. Whereas the fire services taught their entire career that the longer the incident goes on, the more dangerous it becomes because the fire becomes more unstable and there’s more danger involved.

And so, what we’re trying to do is change that mindset that fire and EMS, while nothing is ever 100% safe, law enforcement can provide a level of protection, they can establish warm zones, they can establish corridors and escorts for rescue task forces to come down and start doing the life-saving. And the fantastic thing that we’ve seen across the country is that fire, and EMS departments are eager to do that. They want to save lives, and they want to go down range and do work closer.

And one of the things that I like to share across the country is that we work in warm zones together all the time. If you go to a street shooting of some sort, at one of your neighborhood intersections, and law enforcement rushes to the scene, they have victims down, they have injured down, and they do that thing where they call, and they say, “Hey, we’re ready for fire and EMS to come in.” Fire and EMS comes in, and they start working on the patients. That is still a warm zone. That intersection for that street-level shooting is not really going to be a cold zone until all the patients are transported, crime scene investigators get there, and they make the intersection completely safe.

So, if we remind everyone that, hey, we work in warm zones together all the time, it helps fire and EMS realize, “We’re ready to partner with law enforcement, we’re ready to go down range more quickly to help those that are injured.”

[TODD DEVOE] So yeah, that makes a lot of sense, actually. You know, that idea that we’re already doing it this day, it just puts it into a different dynamic when it comes to the shooter. Some of the stuff within the training that we got today, or this week that we’ve been here, and some of this I already knew, the idea that a patient is going to bleed out within 10 minutes if they have one of the larger arteries hit.

And I had an interview with a guy, it’s called High-Speed Tac, that’s the name of his company, where he goes, and he trains people, firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement regarding (inaudible 00:10:49.11) tourniquet. And quickly dropping active shooter kits around and stuff like this. And I can see that application during this class. And I think the cool part about this class, and now we’re going to get into, a little bit more, what you guys do. There’s a simulation, You partly live-action play, for lack of a better term, and party computer-game play. And it really kind of puts that idea of the High-Speed Tac that I was talking about in his episode, into play, where you actually can go in and touch patients and start to treat them after the threat is done. Talk a little bit about that training and then exactly how you guys developed this cool simulation.

[ADAM PENDLEY] Sure. The simulation software was built around this idea that it provides a stage, or a screenplay, for input, for good decision-making and good communication. So, if you go back some number of years, C3 Pathways actually started in 2004, as a company called Future FD. And the use of technology was early on, and Bill Godfrey, the founder, and CEO of the company embraced technology as a way to get multiple simulations done in a smaller amount of training time.

So, many times across the country, we plan exercises and drills, and we bring a lot of parties into play, but you might only get one run at it. And then you evaluate it, and that’s it. And you wait until next year when it’s time to do another exercise. As the company continued to develop, in 2012, there was an expansion. It was called C3 Pathways, and then this pushed towards creating this simulation environment, and the technology allowing us to do multiple iterations of this building blocks that we’re teaching, it was very important. And to where we are today, in a 3-day active shooter incident management class, we work with integrated building blocks. So we teach a unit of material, lecture-wise, and then we demonstrate that same lecture material hands-on in the simulation environment.

And over the course of three days, we get ten full scenarios done with the students, and they rotate through all of the positions. So, even if their day-to-day position or rank wouldn’t necessarily put them in a command role, they still get to sit in the command’s seat, so they can see that building block as well. So, I think it’s important, you know, the crawl-walk-run sort of mentality that, as you start with the basic building blocks, you demonstrate it, then you make it more complex, and then you demonstrate that. And I don’t think there’s any other opportunity across the country to get this much practice done in such a short period of time.

[TODD DEVOE] I agree with you 100% on that. And one of the cool things that this company does with this training is, it really uses the principles of adult education, where you’re learning in the book, you’re actually taking that very quickly, putting this into practical application with your hands-on simulation, and then, at some point during this class, you’re going to actually critique yourself and the people around you in a positive manner. So you’re kind of already doing that teach-back as well, right away. So you can take this stuff and run with it and bring it back to your department and even use the concepts behind here to help out training your officers, firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics back at your department after taking a course like this, and that’s the cool thing. So, what’s your next step then, with this type of training?

[TODD DEVOE] So, what’s your next step then, with this type of training?

[ADAM PENDLEY] Currently, we’re in development with virtual reality as well. So, the full-on goggles with a virtual reality environment on a platform that allows you to move 360 degrees and certain portions of the simulator would be in that environment as well. So, from a law enforcement perspective, it would give you the opportunity to practice a lot of the tactical skills that we learn in other training environments, as far as entering rooms, and using corners and covering, bounding overwatch, and a lot of the good law enforcement tactics.

But on the fire and EMS side as well, the virtual reality– a fire-EMS person who, let’s say, is assigned to a rescue task force, can enter a room, and see how law enforcement has sorted the room, and you have uninjured moved to one direction, and you have patients that are labelled as red by law enforcement that are maybe down in the room that need to be immediately triaged, and maybe some walking wounded that are sorted in another area. So the fire-EMS can immerse themselves in the environment as well.

So we’re kind of excited for that product to come online in the near future. It’s already in use and testing in training that we’re doing amongst ourselves to get that product out there as well. But other than that, I think one of the other strengths of the material itself is adapting as new information is brought into the material, it changes. It’s very flexible, and it’s driven by actual research and actual statistics. It’s grounded in reviews of active shooter events that have occurred, going all the way back to the year 2000, and we’ve actually just updated the material with the 2015/2016 statistics as well. So, it’s not just, “Hey, we think this is a good way to do it.” This is grounded with empirical research to say that this is a process that works, and it’s hopefully a process that works better.

But obviously, you brought up a good point when just a minute ago, you said that this allows you to come back and have good conversations with your agency. And at the end of the day, that’s what we want. We bring in multiple agencies, usually, for each presentation. And we want them to leave as subject matter experts, who can go back and have those policy conversations and have that interaction with the rest of their area and region, to take the best from what they learned from the course and apply it in the real world.

[TODD DEVOE] What are some of the challenges that you guys, during the education and training portion, and some other research, have had with this program?

[ADAM PENDLEY] I think some of the challenges is getting people to accept the idea that we’re not coming into your community to teach you the way you already do things. That would be silly. To come into somebody’s community and give them three days’ worth of a review of what they already have in policy. We’re teaching a validated process that works. And it may have some elements that are different from a community’s current policy and procedure, and that’s ok. So the challenge would be to, you know, like any training, to go into the training with an open mind and say, “Hey, there are some parts of this that we can integrate right away, and there’s some parts that because of resources, policy, politics, or just legal issues in your jurisdiction, that may not work as well,” and you leave that on the shelf, and that’s ok too.

So I think the biggest challenge when we do this presentation, is to come into the training with an open mind. The good news is that we very rarely have a problem with people saying, “Ok, I get that, and I want to soak it in and have those conversations in my community.”

[TODD DEVOE] And so, your instructors that you bring in, they’re all seasoned veterans, chief-level type people. How were you received by other– I mean, this is my first class with you guys, but it seems like everybody here really respects what you guys are saying. But how are other people on the nation receiving you guys?

[ADAM PENDLEY] I think we’re received pretty well. And like you said, it’s not just the season chief-level, there’s definitely some of that. But we have some operators, we have some bomb squad types, and even some street-level sergeants, and others that are still working in the fire-EMS world. And so, I think people like to see that, and I think they like to see the variety of experience, they like to be able to identify with someone that matches the kind of work that they’ve done in their own career.

So I think that leads to some credibility. It’s not just, “Hey, I’m familiar with these PowerPoints, I’m going to read this PowerPoint to you.” I mean, I think people bring some real world– and then, there are several members of our (inaudible 00:20:58.09) that have worked some of these terrible events across the country, and they bring, you know, real-world examples from some of the challenges they faced managing active shooter events.

[TODD DEVOE] You talked about reading the PowerPoint, I can tell you, just from my experience in this class, in these last couple of days, that none of the instructors have read off the PowerPoint, you know? Thank god, because it can get kind of boring, right? So, no one’s reading directly out of the PowerPoint, it’s really dynamic, each speaker has something that they’re bringing, that’s unique and exciting, and I’m learning a lot from everybody here. So, if somebody wanted to learn more about how to get in contact with you guys or take the course, how would they find you?

ASIM C3 SoCal[ADAM PENDLEY] C3Pathways.com. So, the letter “C,” number “3,” pathways.com, it has a schedule of where the future deliveries are going to be, where other deliveries have been. All of the material, as far as what’s available, it’s clearly marked on the website. And then, one of the things that drives the training that we do is the validated active shooter checklist. And that is available for any agency that has a need for an active shooter checklist. It’s available on the website, you have to click on a link that allows you to do a legal release, as far as liability is concerned, but some of this material is available right now if an agency needed to reach out to have something to start with.

And then there’s different levels of the training available as well, but the goal here, and I think everyone in the (inaudible 00:22:33.27) would agree, that all training costs some sort of money. Our goal is to get a better way out there, to help save lives, and to help make a difference in this terrible situation. So there’s material available right now if people were to go to that website.

[TODD DEVOE] And these classes are also sponsored by DHS and (inaudible 00:22:56.00), right?

[ADAM PENDLEY] That’s correct. Through the (inaudible 00:22:57.28) ANM extension services is where the classes are coordinated through, but it is– the current run is sponsored by the department of homeland security. And that partnership has been great. So there’s additional offerings, and again, the ability to apply for that can be found either on the (inaudible 00:23:17.07) or the alert website, and it can also be found on C3 Pathways.

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, and I highly recommend it. If you guys have the opportunity to go and take one of these classes, or if you’re a decision-maker and you’re able to send people to this class, I highly recommend getting people on to this class. Ok, so here comes the toughest question of the day. What book, books, or publication do you recommend for somebody who wants to learn more about active shooter or active shooter response in general?

[ADAM PENDLEY] So, there’s actually a really good book that was written by instructors from the advanced law enforcement rapid response training alert, at (inaudible 00:23:55.29). And the title of it is, “Active Shooter Events and Response,” by Pete Blair, Terry Nichols, David Burns, and John Curnutt. And it goes through the kind of the same sequence of not only the initial response but some of the management aspects that we talk about in this same course. And you know, at the time that the book was written, they took a snapshot of active shooter events at that time.

So, some of the statistics have been updated since then, but the basic building blocks are there. And then me, personally, I just recently read “Team of Teams” by General Stanley McChrystal, and I think some of the concepts in there, that as long as all your teams know the mission, that they can make a difference at the team level, and all be marching towards a successful outcome for the entire mission.

And I think that Team of Teams book is kind of what we teach, is that as people are given a task and purpose at an active shooter events, and if they focus on their task and purpose, work as a team, but also as part of a whole, that we can make great advances in dealing with the active threat quickly, working on those rescues, stopping the dying, getting the injured to the hospital quickly, and then working on clearing issues. Those three priorities that we talk about a lot during the material.

[TODD DEVOE] Is there anything else that you’d like to say to the decision-makers, the emergency managers, the chiefs of police that are out there right now? Fire chiefs too, for that matter, that are out there right now, listening to this interview?

[ADAM PENDLEY] Talk to each other. Not only talking at a command level. You know, we go to meetings all the time. But really talk to each other. Like, how are we going to work this out when our time comes? And we focus a lot on active shooter events because that’s what the material is geared towards, but at the end of the day, some of the overarching management concepts and the principles of the incident command system applies to all hazards, of course. So, as you build these relationships before that day comes, that’s how you solve it on the backend. So, I think talking to each other is a big thing. Really comparing your policies, understanding what your limitations are. And I’ll give a real quick story.

We ran one community, and we discovered that the ambulance, the EMS service, was a third service– a private service of EMS, and it was their plan for them to be part of the RTFs, or the rescue task forces, because of their medical training. And so, they would go down range with the rescue task forces. But that left the ambulance unattended, as far as the driver is concerned. So we suggested, as the instructors from another area of the country, “Couldn’t one of the firemen drive the ambulance to the hospital?” And they said, “No, it’s against state law.” Without a certain number of training hours on that rig that they weren’t allowed to drive it.

And so, there was an “Aha” moment in the room that, wait a minute, we need to talk to each other about those kinds of things. So, some individual plans had been built, but it would appear that they hadn’t compared notes. So definitely sit down to each other and not only have the conversations but work through in a meaningful way how you would sort out some of those issues, you know, when your day comes.

[TODD DEVOE] Well, sir, thank you so much for doing what you do here. The class is wonderful and thank you for coming on EM Weekly.

[ADAM PENDLEY] Absolutely. Thank you.

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EM Weekly: 18 Active Shooter, Lessons Learned

EP 25 Business Emergency Response Training

EP 35 The Paradigm Shift of Active Shooter Response

EP 05 Todd Talks to UAlbany Responding to an Active Shooter


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