Minnesota Quick News: St. Paul first responders change rescue policies for crises

February 19, 2013

St. Paul fire EMT Thomas Hernandez and Capt. Mike Hamburger walked shoulder to shoulder as they approached wounded victims sprawled out in a long, dark hallway, with one police officer leading the way and another bringing up the rear.

“Let’s stay single file,” St. Paul fire SWAT medic Sean Lofgren said as he guided them to minimize exposure to Hernandez and Hamburger.

The medics got to their victim safely during the recent exercise aimed at training police to escort fire personnel through dangerous situations. It’s the first time St. Paul police and fire are training together in large-scale exercises that mimic shootings and explosions, marking a turning point in how law enforcement think about interagency cooperation and best practices for saving victims. Authorities said the training will be invaluable for future rescue missions large and small.

Firefighters and EMTs had been taught to wait for police to clear a scene before rescuing victims, which could take longer than is ideal in large buildings or complex events. Victims could die by bleeding from treatable injuries.

By the end of the week, 380 St. Paul police officers and 220 firefighters will have completed training that teaches them how to enter “warm zones,” crime scenes that are not 100 percent safe. (St. Paul firefighters are cross-trained as paramedics or EMTs.)

“To make a difference, we have to be there in the first 10 minutes,” said Lofgren, one of the organizers and trainers. “Any delay can cost lives.”

Lofgren, police SWAT Cmdr. Tim Flynn and Sgt. Jim Falkowski said it’s the type of training they’ve been advocating for years, but last year’s fatal workplace shooting at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis and the Newtown, Conn., school shooting have added a sense of urgency and relevance.

Read more at: http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/191761551.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue

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