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Santa Rosa County authorities tested their joint responses to an active shooter call at Woodlawn Beach Middle School Monday, July 17.
Emma Kennedy/ekennedy@pnj.com

Santa Rosa County’s firefighters, emergency medical services staff and police tested their coordinated response to a simulated active-shooter situation on Monday. 

Daniel Hahn, Santa Rosa County emergency management plans chief, said changes in protocol in recent years mean first responders other than police are now allowed on scene during those incidents. Previously, he said, the area would be closed off and only tactical or SWAT teams could enter, but in many situations, victims were inside in a relatively safe location with life-threatening injuries. 

Now, firefighters and EMS officials can work with police to be escorted through what officials call “warm zones” to find, stabilize and remove injured civilians.

More: Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office hosts active-shooter training exercises

During Monday’s training at Woodlawn Beach Middle School, personnel in the Midway Fire District, the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office and Lifeguard Ambulance Service worked through several scenarios to manage their responses and fine-tune the skills needed to stay calm with so many variables.

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“The fire side, the EMS side, their response is different to what ours is,” said SRSO Deputy I.D. Brewton. “Where ours would be trying to eliminate a threat that may occur on scene, their job is to come in to assist us with now handling any possible casualties or assisting in any way that they can.”

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Brewton said since the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, protocols have been changing. While SRSO completes regular training, including active-shooter training, Brewton said it’s important to recognize that it’s not just shooting situations that require that type of response….