Houston-area first responders training together for active shooter situations

Houston's area first responders are using new training techniques to improve communication and speed, for the event they have to respond to a mass shooting situation.

"[If] we have people that are dying on these scenes because of delays in communication, anything we can do to improve and streamline that process is beneficial for all of us," said James Baker, Lieutenant with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. "ALERRT is on the forefront in helping us be up-to-date with the latest strategies, techniques, and ways to protect the public in saving lives."

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The program called Active Attack Integrated Response is a subset of Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT). The goal is to have different members of law enforcement and firefighters practice working together through realistic and high-stress active shooter scenarios.

"We’re wanting to make sure everyone is on the same page and everybody is responding appropriately," said Bryan Holmes, Deputy Chief with the Friendswood Fire Marshal’s Office. "[That way] we can stop the killing, stop the dying, and perform a casualty evacuation. This program is considered the golden standard for what’s going on right now dealing with active shooters."

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While FOX 26 attended a class Tuesday, the group was simulating a mass shooting at a school. Members of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Spring Valley Police Department, and Cy-Fair Fire Department were there.

"It’s very realistic having guns going off for our guys, get used to that a little more, [and] respond to the situation better," said Captain Steadman from the Cy-Fair Fire Department. "You see us out on the streets, but we don’t really get to do these trainings together. That’s what ALERRT is bringing to the table for all of us.  Putting us all in the same rooms together and making us doing the training together."


The simulations are very realistic and include working with dispatch, ending the threat of an active shooter, and helping gunshot victims.

"We try to do it as fast as we can," said Deputy Chris Wells from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. "The quicker we can get more advanced medical care for the injured, the higher survivability rate we can get."

All Houston Police and Firefighters have taken the course. Now, the program is expanding to other first responders in Harris County and the surrounding Houston area.

"We owe it to the community," said Wells. "They expect us to go protect them in a horrible situation. We owe it to them to be the best response we can."