Blog by Ofer Lichtman
Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department (Calif.)
Editor’s Note: Ofer Lichtman of Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department (Calif.) is an expert on numerous subjects impacting the fire service, including Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) and terrorism awareness. Last year, Lichtman provided TargetSolutions with an in-depth interview on best practices for emergency responders during an active shooter incident. To read the two-part series, please click here.
If a department from another part of the country was looking to emulate Rancho Cucamonga’s model for a rescue task force, where would I recommend they start?
I would start with the end in mind and with a simple incident objective: Save the most lives as possible with what you have available. It doesn’t matter if you are 20 deep or 2,000 strong; if you can train your personnel in unified command, put together just one RTF, enter a warm zone and treat casualties closest to the time and location of their injury, then they can make a significant impact on any scene.
Here are the four pillars of my department’s tactical response program:
1. Get Buy-in from Personnel at All Levels
You need to constantly get buy-in from floor personnel, administration, and your city officials when building a program like this. You need buy-in as threats evolve and change. Listen to your people who are going into warm zones and address their concerns.
2. Create the Right Working Relationship between Law Enforcement, Fire, and EMS
Sometimes we miss the unified command part in which we say an incident is a law enforcement incident alone, and no feedback from the fire department or EMS is needed. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You must train together, build relationships and trust each other. These healthy relationships will lend themselves to a greater unified command structure with common goals and incident objectives.
3. Make Sure You Have Proper Gear and Equipment
If we don’t give proper gear to protect our personnel, then we will lose buy-in. If we don’t give them the proper tools they need to do the job, then they’re not going to be as effective.
4. Make Sure Training and Tactics Match Reality
Threats evolve so constant training is a must to ensure our tactics are correct. For example, our original model was built upon having two personnel enter a warm zone, but that’s just not practical or efficient. Having a large RTF (3 LE / 5 FF), where one person focuses on the command and control aspect, while the others operate on the rapid treatment aspect, lends to our objectives being met safely, quickly and more effectively.
About the Author:
Ofer Lichtman started out as a first responder in Israel and is currently the Terrorism Liaison Officer Coordinator for Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department (Calif.). Lichtman was instrumental in developing its Terrorism and Tactical Response Program. Lichtman is a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and is on the advisory board of the C-TECC.