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Integrating emergency response to active shooter incidents 

ALERTT is the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training centre in Texas State University, and it provides the best research-based active shooter training in the US, writes Brian Dillon. The ninth annual ALERRT Conference has recently concluded after a four day event in Grapevine, Texas, USA.

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The theme of this year’s conference was integration, as ALERRT’s research has consistently identified this to be the essential component in successful incident management. In practice, this involves all emergency services working in concert to save lives, respond effectively, archive resolution and move towards recovery. Over 1,000 delegates attended the 2018 conference, which is considered to have been the most successful event to date.

In the General Assembly delegates heard keynote presentations that included a comprehensive debrief from the team that completed the October 1 After Action Report (Las Vegas shootings) and responders to the Santa Fe school shooting incident. Over the following two days, a packed schedule allowed delegates to select the lectures that most suited their interests. Topics ranged from the latest research on active shooter incidents, command and control, survivors’ stories, training for dispatchers and counter-terrorism. In a supporting vendor show, there was an opportunity for suppliers to showcase their products and demonstrate the latest equipment to an expert audience.

ALERRT has always championed effective tactics to “Stop the Killing” and consequently its conferences have consistently attracted attendees from law enforcement, fire and paramedic agencies, plus academics and security professionals. However, taking a lead from the “Stop the Dying” theme, this year’s conference included a new addition of a specific track for medical practitioners. The emphasis of this was on first responder agencies and hospitals developing a greater knowledge of each other’s capabilities and requirements. Research has shown that the stabilisation of casualties and their transportation to hospital is an area that presents its own specific challenges and one in which authorities should work on to improve.

ALERRT was founded in 2002 and it has trained more than 130,000 first responders; since 2013 it has been the FBI’s nationally approved training centre for active shooter scenarios. ALERRT’s catalogue provides 14 separate courses, including the highly successful Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) training, which has been delivered extensively nationwide across the US.

During the conference ALERRT was presented by the US Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) with an $8.7M grant to provide additional training to 15,000 first responders in a range of scenarios. this is in addition to a grant of $575,000 provided by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in August 2018. This funding will ensure that ALERRT remains at the cutting edge of research and practice.

The demands on all agencies in mass casualty incidents, be they terrorist related or otherwise, continue to pose significant challenges to the authorities and stakeholders. It was a great privilege to once again be invited to present on the UK experience to an audience drawn from across the US. ALERRT is unique training organisation with an ability to draw on a rich seam of experience and expertise unrivalled by any other institution.

Brian Dillon, a Member of CRJ’s Editorial Advisory Panel, will be speaking at the International Security Expo’s Protecting Crowded Places and Countering Terrorism Conference in London on November 29. Click here for more details.  

Brian Dillon, 18/11/2018
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