Paramedics join local crews for first active-shooter drill

We know them simply by a name.

Columbine. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech.

Mass shootings shock and frighten us.

But police officers, firefighters and paramedics don't have time to feel shock and fear. They must rescue victims.

To train for the worst, local first responders held a multi-day drill at Parkland College where they practiced rescuing victims of a mass shooting scene. Champaign Fire Department, Champaign Police Department, Parkland College Police and Carle Arrow Ambulance participated in the drill. 

"This was our first-ever active-shooter rescue drill," said Todd Hitt, lieutenant with the Champaign Fire Department. "We’ve never been put to the test. This exercise gave us a chance to put on our vests and helmets and actually practice saving people from a mass shooting."

During the drill, firefighters and police officers went into the building to find and take wounded "victims" out to waiting paramedics.

That's when Arrow Ambulance staff swung into action.

"In this type of situation, our job is the three Ts: triage, treat and transport," said Brad Weir, MD, director of Carle Regional Emergency Medical Services.

"Our team decides where to send victims based on their trauma—either to the hospital if they are badly hurt or to another secure place where emergency medical workers would treat wounds that don’t need hospital attention.”

Arrow has been drilling more with Champaign Fire and Police Departments because those two groups have been doing more out-of-classroom work.

“We recently participated in a water-rescue drill and the mock plane crash at Willard Airport,” Dr. Weir said.

“It is really crucial for all first responders to work together and keep the community safe. I hope we never have to put this to use, but if something awful happens, drills like this prepare us to serve the public."