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Trained to help: How Phoenix fire, police team to respond to active shooter situations

Police officer Steve Blasko walks near police tape at the scene of a fatal house fire and shooting Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Phoenix. Officers dodged bullets fired by the shooter and donned breathing gear to enter the burning home to help the victims. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

PHOENIX — A year of active-shooter training became more than an exercise Tuesday for Phoenix first responders.

Phoenix fire and police departments faced a burning house with a man shooting at them near 47th Avenue and Cactus Road. Emergency crews responded after a woman inside a house called 911 and said her brother shot someone.

With the suspect shooting at police, more officers and firefighters rushed to the home prepared to save lives and apprehend the shooter, if they could.

“The leadership in fire and in the police department are talking together to ensure that everybody is safe and yet effective when we respond to situations like we had [Tuesday],” Shelly Jamison, deputy chief with the Phoenix Fire Department, said.

Jamison said emergency responders arrive with a plan. Depending on the situation, police may provide cover for firefighters while they treat victims or officers could retrieve victims and bring them to firefighters.

No matter what they were facing Tuesday, crews were ready.

“When they show up on a scene, instead of running from it, we run toward it,” Jamison said. “We’re prepared for this type of thing.”

Tuesday’s incident resulted in tragedy. The suspect allegedly shot a family inside the home before setting it ablaze.

Police officers dressed in firefighter gear so they could get inside the house to search for the family. Jamison said firefighters were waiting outside for any survivors with some of the best supplies available.

“We have stuff that the military uses,” Jamison said. “It’s clotting devices, tourniquets [and] the type of thing that you would need to quickly treat a large number of victims and get them moving to the hospital.”

A little girl and the 20-year-old woman who made the 911 call were rushed to the hospital, where they died. The 6-year-old clung to life for a handful of hours after the shooting.

The rest of the family and the suspect were found deceased inside the home.