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Police and firefighters practice for active-shooter situation in Billings

Teamwork key to response
Posted at 8:22 PM, Aug 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-09 16:34:17-04

BILLINGS — If a shooting were to happen in Billings, emergency personnel say they are as prepared as any in the country.

The Billings police and fire departments have been working together with the latest tactics to save lives.

Officers and firefighters have been going through Active Shooter and Rescue Task Force Response training at the Billings Career Center.

“The active shooter component of that is law enforcement’s response to an active shooter situation and how we are able to quickly eliminate the threat,” said Lt. Brandon Wooley of the Billings Police Department. “But usually in an active shooter situation, we have a high numbers casualties and injured.

“We’re not getting into the hot zone where they think the shooter still is,” said Assistant Chief Matt Hoppel of the Billings Fire Department. “But we are getting into the warm zone where they’ve kind of cleared that area. We somewhat know where the shooter is and under their protection, we are starting care.”

The training involves a report of a shooting at the career center.

“If I can bring 10 or 15 fire department personnel with my 10 officers, now I have more manpower to deal with the mass number of casualties,” said Wooley.

Hoppel added, “We don’t have to do what they do but we have to know what they do, so we can effectively make the whole operation work the way it’s supposed to."

Police and firefighters entered each classroom trying to find out if there are any more shooters and threats and also looking for victims.

“It is our goal to get the fire department or EMS to the injured as soon as possible,” Wooley said.

“We’re going to extract those victims and bring them all to what we call a casualty collection point and that’s where we can start to begin treatment," he added.

The practice is the preparation in the case of a real shooting.

“Law enforcement can’t do this alone,” Wooley said. "EMS can’t to this alone. Fire can’t do it alone. The hospitals aren’t able to do this alone. And this is truly one of those incidents that we have to really come together as a community and utilize them. “

“Two different occupations but when you put the two together, you have an outstanding organization that’s protecting the citizens of Billings,” Hoppel said.

The training is similar to what is done all ove r the country, but not in every city.

“I’d say we’re well ahead of the pace out there, which is awesome,” Hoppel said.

Everyone in each department will have gone through the one day training this week.