Jones Co. hosts active shooter training

Jones County Sheriff Greg Graver and Anamosa Police Officer Keith Bell help to secure the scene of EMS personnel make their way to the victims in the active shooter training at JRMC. The Jones County EMS Saturday workshop was held on Feb. 17. (Photo submitted)

The hallway in the JRMC outpatient clinic was used to stage active shooting victims waiting to be attended to by the medical response team. About 30 participants came together for the training as law enforcement, EMS and fire. (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Jones County fire, EMS and law enforcement took part in active shooter training, Saturday, Feb. 17 at Jones Regional Medical Center. Despite being in the works for several months, Sheila Frink, Anamosa Ambulance director, said the timing coincidently was three days following the Feb. 14 school shooting in which 17 people lost their lives.

     Aside from Jones County officials on hand for the eight-hour training, there were also law enforcement, EMS and firefighters from other jurisdictions as well. There were a total of 30 participants, with three instructors. The day was split between four hours of classroom time and a four-hour scenario training session.

     Once a year, local emergency personnel come together for what is known as “Jones County EMS Saturday.” Those present take part in different training programs. This time, though, it happened to be an active shooter.

     “It was all about getting to the victims fast to provide aid,” said Frink. “It’s all about the patient outcome and having more survivors.”

     Incidentally, Frink herself witnessed the aftermath of an active shooter early on in her EMS career. In November 1991, Frink was working as a student on the Johnson County ambulance department. A 28-year-old former University of Iowa student four faculty members and a student, and injured many others.

     “I was part of the response team,” she recalled.

     Having had that first-hand account experience, Frink said active shooter training is something that is needed, good or bad, in today’s society.

     She credits Anamosa paramedic Brian Rose with leading the charge this year.

     “You never think you’ll need this type of training,” she said.

     She said in the past, EMS training taught them not to enter the scene of a shooting to race to the victims, but rather to wait until law enforcement cleared the scene. Now, EMS follow the law enforcement in with protection to cater to the victims’ medical and emergency needs.

     “The goal is to save as many victims as possible,” she said. “The training has changed, and we’re not waiting for the victims, but go in after them.”

     Frink said EMS has built a trust relationship with law enforcement for protection coming and leaving an active shooting scene.

     When entering an unexpected situation, she said EMS locate the victims, assess the situation, and treat the victims.

     With 30 participants, everyone was divided into medical response teams, which consisted of two law enforcement to provide coverage leading and trailing the four EMS/firefighters.

     The training took place in the outpatient clinic at JRMC. Frink said she was glad they had the facility to use, taking full advantage of the rooms, hallways and corridors.

     When it comes to mass shootings, Frink said no city/town is exempt from something tragic like this taking place.

     “We want to show the community that we’re on board and on top of our training if something should ever happen here,” she said. “It could happen in any place. We need to be prepared in what to do because as EMS, it’s our job to save as many lives as we can.”

     Frink praised those school districts that have also stepped up and held similar trainings for teachers, administrators, and staff.

     “It used to be you hid under a desk like a sitting duck,” Frink said of previous training techniques. “Now, you’re taught to evacuate and fight back.”

     In her 20 years in EMS, Frink said a lot has changed when it comes to active scenes and the patient/victims’ needs.

     “You never think you’re going to need active shooter training,” she said. “But we try to plan for every scenario with these trainings.”

     The instructors for the day included: Lt. Cory Macumber with the Urbandale Fire Department and a paramedic, Assistant Fire Chief Eric Kallen with the Clive FD, and Lt. Tom Hartshorn with the Iowa City Fire Department and Hazmat Team.

     “I would recommend these instructors to anyone,” praised Frink. “They were all very knowledgeable.”

     She said “Jones County EMS Saturday” went really well overall, with several entities working together to make it happen.

     “I was very impressed,” said Frink. “It taught us all about what to do/not to do in the case of an active shooter.”


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