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Firefighters gear up and train for active shooter crises

WALLA WALLA, Washington – City firefighters took part in active shooter training this week. Last year, the Walla Walla Fire Department reached out to Providence St. Mary Medical Center and received a $20,000 grant to purchase tactical gear, such as bulletproof vests, helmets and specially-supplied medical bags.

Walla Walla Fire Chief Bob Yancey says the department has received the grant and the only item they are still waiting on is the helmets.

Yancey said it’s becoming more and more common for fire departments to have tactical gear in their inventory of equipment.

“I remember about 10 or 12 years ago that we were approached by the paramedics to ask if we could purchase ballistic vests for them,” Yancey said. “I said, as long as I’m fire chief, you’ll never wear a ballistic vest. Here we are, we’re wearing ballistic vests.”

How you dress is not enough though. Yancey said the WWFD trained this week with local law enforcement, including personnel from the Walla Walla Police Department, the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol, and the College Place Police Department.

“We’ll be ready to roll into action Saturday morning if something happens,” Yancey said.

He expects the tactical gear only being used in an incident like an active shooter situation.

Deputy Chief Brad Morris thinks it’s an important extra step to enable firefighters to do their jobs.

“It’s a lot of reward for the risks that we take when we have to put it on to get into situations … to get help to people faster than we were before, because now we have better protection along with law enforcement helping us out,” Morris said.

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