Hillsborough County to offer no ballistic protection for paramedics at mass shootings

Investigations

Hillsborough County, Fla (WFLA) – After studying mass shootings around the country, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is developing a new plan. 

It’s designed to contain the shooter, while paramedics move in to treat and save the most seriously wounded.

This plan is not without controversy.  

Paramedics are a little concerned that Hillsborough County Fire Rescue informed them that at these active shooter incidents, they will have no ballistic protection.

“It’s not what they signed up for,” IAFF Local 2294 spokesperson Travis Horn stated.  “No one is running into an active shooter situation without ballistic protection.”

A Hillsborough Fire Rescue power point presentation about the plan obtained by 8 On Your Side states in bold letters; “FIRE RESCUE PERSONNEL WILL NOT HAVE BALLISTIC PROTECTION.” 

Colonel Ciro Dominguez of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told 8 On Your Side developing a plan to get paramedics in to treat severely wounded victims is paramount.

“Parkland, getting medical aid to people fast enough was a problem,” Colonel Dominguez explained.  “It was a major issue in the Pulse nightclub that getting rescue to people fast enough was not happening.” 

The sheriff’s office is working with all other law enforcement and fire rescue departments in the county to coordinate “Active Shooter Incident Management.” 

According to Colonel Dominguez, contact teams comprised of law enforcement go in first.

“They push the threat back, then contain the threat or they neutralize the threat,” Colonel Dominguez said.

Right behind them a rescue task force consisting of a paramedic protected by 2 or 3 deputies.

“Our job is to deal with the threat, and their job is to rescue the injured,” Colonel Dominguez added.

The union is concerned that paramedics will be more vulnerable without ballistic vests and helmets.

Colonel Dominguez believes the law enforcement presence around the paramedics will provide enough protection that they won’t need vests.

When asked why Hillsborough County Fire Rescue was not providing ballistic protection, a county spokesperson told 8 On Your Side the sheriff’s office developed the plan.

“That’s not a decision for the sheriff’s office, that’s a decision for the fire department,” Colonel Dominguez explained.

The national office of the International Association of Firefighters IAFF in Washington indicated it would not back any such plan unless firefighters are properly equipped.

“I tell you what ask the county manager or one of the county commissioners if they’d run into a building with an active shooter without ballistic protection,” Travis Horn stated.

If you know of something that you think should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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