Firefighters and law enforcement training together to save more lives


GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Law enforcement officers are no longer the only ones wearing bullet proof vests. Firefighters and EMS in Grand Traverse County are also starting to wear them.

First responders all across the country have put together a Rescue Task Force.

One week after the Las Vegas massacre, the Traverse City Fire Chief Jim Tuller decided to meet with the Traverse City Police Chief Jeff O'Brien to talk about Rescue Task Force Training.

Within a few months they started training together.

Now, the Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office is training with the rest of the fire departments in the county.

"Historically in an active shooter situation, law enforcement has gone in and they go try and deal with the threat and the victims are not receiving any medical treatment," said Captain Chris Clark, with the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office. "This new technique is where we do go in and deal with the threat, but at the same time we are able to provide security and bring in fire and EMS so they can treat any victims quicker."

Trained firefighter paramedics now have bullet proof vests equipped with everything they need to treat patients, including tourniquets and clotting bandages.

Chief Tuller says it's important the equipment is all organized the same way so the vests can be quickly swapped between people who are trained.

“They don’t want to have to be searching in pockets when they’re treating someone," said Chief Tuller. "They want to be able to reach in and pull something out, treat a patient, pull something else out, treat another patient and go to the next one very fast."

Along with the 30 pound bullet proof vests, firefighters and EMS will also have protection from law enforcement.

"While they are protecting us we can apply some critical quick lifesaving techniques to stop bleeding or hemorrhaging, and hopefully get ahead of the curve to give the victims their best chance of survival," said Chief Tuller.

One of the most important parts of the Rescue Task Force is making sure everyone is training together.

So far Traverse City Police has trained with Traverse City Fire, and the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office has trained with Grand Traverse Metro Fire and Fife Lake Springfield Township Fire.

Grand Traverse Metro Fire has more than a dozen vests thanks to a 2 percent grant so they will be able to distribute them to all the other fire departments in the county.

Traverse City Fire currently has four sets of the equipment which include the helmet, vest, and medical items.

The vests, which cost around $1,000 each, can also be used in other incidents where there are a lot of injuries such as a bus crash, severe weather event, or collapsed building.

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