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Phoenix-area firefighters implement new policy for active shooting situations

A SWAT vehicle carries police officers near the scene of a shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (Micah Escamilla/Los Angeles News Group via AP)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Firefighters in Tempe will soon have quicker access to active shooting victims.

A new policy puts them on the front lines with police, allowing them to treat and evacuate victims at an active crime scene.

While police will have to clear the space before firefighters enter that area, it is a change from previous rules where the city’s fire department would wait at a safe distance.

“(We can) assess patients as we find them, triage them and get them moved out of the immediate danger area,” said Paul Nies, assistant fire chief for Tempe fire, medical and rescue.

When firefighters enter an active shooter scene alongside police, they will be equipped with body armor and ballistic helmets. Tempe firefighters have been training throughout 2015 to prepare for the new active shooter policy.

Nies said it is human nature for firefighters to want to help victims in any way necessary.

“In other communities, we watch firefighters,” Nies said. “They are people of action and generally are not predisposed to allow people to suffer.”

Nies said that is part of the reason why Tempe is allowing firefighters alongside police during active shooter situations. He said they are working with Tempe police to implement the new policy and may engage in joint training with Arizona State University police in the future.

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