By RYAN DUNN
First responders across Hancock County knew from their training how to effectively respond to a mass shooter.
But until recently, they were far less certain what their peers in other agencies would do.
“We do realize the problem is bigger than any of us can actually handle by ourselves,” said Findlay Police Chief Greg Horne. “We can’t do this alone.”
Findlay, Hancock County and village first responders have collaborated to create an organized checklist of which agency takes what role in a catastrophic event, such as a school shooting. The booklet outlines where first responders would provide services, depending on the crisis location.
These standards relieve dispatchers of having to organize law enforcement and medical personnel during a chaotic shooting, said Sgt. Mark Price of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s something that needs to be done simultaneously, because 911 calls will continue to come in,” Price said.
Officials pursued the checklist idea through Findlay’s emergency medical services committee. They created a lengthy operating procedure, and pared it down to an efficient packet, said Rob Martin, Hanco Ambulance chief.
Then they reached out to other agencies in the county when it became clear teamwork would help with larger demands, Martin said.
The plan can be better implemented thanks to first responders who attended one of seven, two-hour training seminars, Findlay Fire Chief Thomas Lonyo said.
Lonyo said the public can expect a cohesive response to a crisis, with outposts for urgent care. This measured approach also keeps first responders safer, he said.
“A lot of our resources, which normally would be flying up to the front door of the school or factory, are put in a position where they’re strategically staged in the area,” Lonyo said.
This framework also can be applied to less-serious events because it trains those involved for the worst, Lonyo said.
Few cities have active-shooter law enforcement training coordinated with a plan for medical personnel to aid victims, Lonyo said.
This improved communication also will allow hospital administrators to make quicker decisions, said Ryan Shoemaker, director of facility and support services at Blanchard Valley Health System.
“It helps us prepare, to know what’s going to come into our door,” Shoemaker said.
The plan also includes volunteer fire departments to make sure enough resources are in place.
If a school shooting occurred, the goal would be safely returning children to their parents and containing a hectic situation, Horne said.
Horne praised those who created the checklist.
“We’re giving authority to the people that know what they’re doing to develop this plan. … It’s not about political entities or credit,” Horne said.