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How one Texas city's fire and police departments redefined mass shooting response

How one Texas city's fire and police departments redefined mass shooting response
How one Texas city's fire and police departments redefined mass shooting response 03:12

ALLEN — The bravery and coordination shown by first responders who rushed to save lives in the moments after the Allen mall shooting was no accident.

In fact, they said the special camaraderie between the city's fire and police departments proved crucial in saving lives.

In every corner of the country, historically between police officers and firefighters, "there is a lot of ribbing," "there is a lot of jealousy also."

It's the kind of banter these first responders are used to. The jokes and coffee here are plentiful, but it's all just fun and games.

(sot q&a) 00:45:36 (williams)

Ken: "when you hear that term brotherhood. What does that mean to you all now?"

"To me, [brotherhood], it's the family environment," said Allen Fire Rescue Chief Danny Williams. "We've always heard a brotherhood in the police service. A brotherhood in the fire service. A family environment in either of those. Especially since the events of a year ago we are all one family."

Williams, and Allen Police Lt. Darren Whitman know the value of working as one first hand.

Back in 2018, both departments began extensive training together and building what are known as Rescue Task Forces, or RTFs, between the two to respond to active shooter attacks.

"So now, our personnel are going in to what is called warm zones with PD escorts and we can get in much quicker," Williams said. "We have their protection because they are still armed up and ready to go. Our personnel have vests, helmets, ballistics gear. Something that we never even thought about 20+ years ago."

"We are all in this together," said Whitman.

As the heads of this training for their respective departments, Whitman and Williams credit their knowledge of how to react as a team for saving the lives they could when a gunman opened fire on unsuspecting shoppers at the Allen outlet mall last May.

Police officers who were first on the scene were able to apply tourniquets and immediate medical care to those who needed it.

"Every life that was saved that day was due to the efforts of the Police Department because when our personnel arrived in ambulances all we had to do was to put them in the ambulances and transport them," said Williams.

Without cross-training, Williams said it could have been disjointed.

"Those phone calls between fire and police would not have happened so quick," said Whitman.

"I think in the end a significantly higher number of deaths would have occurred," Williams said.

Eight people were killed that day, and at least seven others were seriously hurt.

A response analysis showed within 50 minutes of the attack, all gunshot victims were on their way or already at area emergency rooms.

"Everybody knew what their job was and everybody went to work," said Whitman.

These first responders say it's all thanks to the training and the camaraderie formed by it.

Knowing that these kinds of attacks have become far too common lt. Whitman says there's only one thing they can do moving forward.

"Just come up with new ways to train and continue the training. Don't stop," said Whitman. "Don't just say, 'We did a good job,' because today we don't know what is going to happen."

And for them, a bond that removes any traditional feuds between fire and police departments. 

"Because of that relationship, because of that camaraderie, and joint training," said Williams. "I think we can just provide a much higher level of service and protection for our community." 

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