By Valerie Marz and
San Marino Tribune
The San Marino Police and Fire departments will be holding joint rescue task force trainings in June at the Stoneman building to help the departments prepare for a possible mass shooting incident, Police Chief John Incontro said.
“We want them to know from the beginning what they will need to do,” said Incontro, referring to the city’s first responders. “And it is better to have something done in a controlled environment.”
The trainings will be held on June 3, 10 and 24 from 8 a.m. to noon at the former Stoneman Elementary School site, said Police Sgt. Kenric Wu, who is coordinating the task force with an eye toward “working as a team on these events.” Wu said the SMPD has reached out to adjacent police and fire departments in South Pasadena, San Gabriel and Alhambra to join them in the mutually beneficial training.
Mario Rueda, who serves as San Marino’s fire chief and as acting city manager, is on board with the rescue task force training.
“Our goals are really simple,” said Rueda. “Stop the killing, stop the dying and rapidly evacuate any casualties.” Police officers and firefighters need to be trained in the same methods, he explained.
“We should be interchangeable,” said Rueda.
In the current protocol, police officers will immediately form contact teams and enter the environment. Firefighters will don protective clothing consisting of bulletproof vests and helmets and take their medical gear into “warm areas,” in search of injured persons, Wu explained.
While firefighters treat the “injured,” police will provide security so that firefighters are protected while they do their job, “assessing and treating injured persons,” Wu added.
San Marino police officers and firefighters have already completed the classroom portion of the training at the fire department and will be conducting the hands-on training at Stoneman.
“A lot of our firefighters have done some training at the academy, but this will be the first time we have been through this,” said Rueda. “At first, we will be at a ‘walking’ pace,” he said.
By “walking,” Rueda means the low-key stage of training after the classroom training.
The final stage, the “running stage,” is applying the training in a more realistic setting, Wu said. In the running stage, police chase the shooter or “bad guy” on a campus, in collaboration at a later date with the school administration.
For the June task force trainings, Wu said, Stoneman will be cordoned off and residents have been notified of the closure in advance. Scouts have been asked to volunteer for service hours as “injured persons,” holding cards with the nature of their injuries.
“We will have to move through and ‘rescue’ people,” Incontro said.
“I am really comfortable with this method,” Rueda said. The protocol has been adopted throughout the state, he added.
“I am happy with this,” said Incontro. “We have a lot of new people and we have to hone our skills. If something happens, we want our officers to know what to do. This is a good time to do some training.”