The National Police Foundation, an independent research organization, has released its findings in an after-action review of Orlando Fire Department’s response to the Pulse tragedy. The Orlando Fire Chief Roderick Williams requested this objective, in-depth review of the department’s preparedness, response and recovery. The review provides information, context, lessons learned and promising practices, as well as opportunities to improve OFD’s response to mass violent events.”
The report finds that OFD’s response that morning was “reflective of existing department policies, as well as fire and emergency medical services generally accepted national practices.” Also, recognizing that the “threat of mass casualty attacks represent a continuing, if not growing, threat requires all public safety agencies to continuously evaluate and adapt training, policies and strategies.”
The report analyzes ten areas of the response to Pulse; Leadership and relationships, mutual aid, post-incident demands, command and incident management, policies, training, equipment and first responder’s mental health and wellness.
The findings include:
“OFD personnel on scene and in the communications center led a response characterized by professionalism, dedication, and bravery.” Additionally, “First-line and mid-level supervisors made decisions in an urgent, high-stakes, and complex operating environment, in some cases without a presence in the unified command and with little information about the larger response strategy.”
In reference to mutual aid, researchers found “because of pre-existing relationships OCFR resources seamlessly integrated on scene and backfilled OFD fire stations.”
As far as incident management, “their actions saved the lives of innocent club goers and staff. OFD transported approximately 16 of the injured patients to hospitals and treated many others at the scene.”
The review also includes a thorough assessment of OFD’s polices, training and equipment. It outlines that “public safety agencies more generally, must not only train, but also ensure that policies, procedures, and protocols and training are put into practice. Additionally, the lack of national-level standards or template memorandum of understanding to address rescue task forces were not created until after the response to this attack, at the request of the leaders of the agencies involved.”
Following the Pulse tragedy, the Orlando Fire Department has implemented new policies and procedures, including:
“OFD did implement Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) training for all members of the department, as well as Swift Assisted Victim Extraction (SAVE) training.” This certification focuses on a strategic approach to providing quality care to trauma patients in mass casualty scenarios.
To further protect firefighters responding to active shooter incidents, “OFD deployed ballistic equipment to all field personnel. Ballistic vests have also been assigned to every apparatus seat on the department and all command vehicles carry extra vests and helmets.”
“New communications protocols, including a new alert process was implemented following this incident that requires communications staff to follow-up with a phone call three minutes after the initial page is sent if they have not received a response.”
New “scene of violence” and active shooter procedures have been established to ensure a unified command is established and maintained during a mass casualty incident. “NFPA 3000 – Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response – was published in the aftermath of the Pulse attack and offers guidance regarding to what extent fire departments should operate in the “warm” and/or “hot zones,” and how best to integrate with law enforcement. OFD continues to finalize its Rescue Task Force policies, procedures and protocols.”
Enhanced training for our Health and Safety division in order to work as a liaison for mental health services for personnel. “OFD leadership and other members of Orlando City government attended a session regarding the role of peer supper teams at UCF Restores.”
The full report can be found here: After Action Review