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Penn Fire demonstrates new "Rescue Task Force"

MISHAWAKA, Ind. - Penn Township Fire and surrounding departments hope to "stop the bleed" with their new Rescue Task Force. Friday, they worked with ISP to go through their first active shooter training.

A new training also comes with new ballistic vests certain departments in St. Joseph County received thanks to a Grant.

They're specially-designed for fire departments' Rescue Task Forces, the groups who will go in quickly to treat victims of active shooters.

From now on, the chief of training at Penn Fire says all Penn Township firefighters will be wearing them in any violent situations.

“It’s one of those things, we have to be prepared for, no matter where it happens, but we have to be prepared to work side-by-side," said Brian Kazmierzak, the Chief of Training for the Penn Township Fire Department.

The Rescue Task Force is, in essence, a nationwide initiative to get fire and police to "stop the bleed."

“It’s a unified push for this. The law enforcement provides the security element. We provide the patient treatment element," said Chief Kazmierzak.

“It’s very different being responsible for a group of people as you’re moving forward through an active shooter situation...that don’t have a way of protecting themselves aside from the vests that they just got...Communication is key," said ISP Trooper Kyle Glaze.

Training, of course, is also key, which is why Penn Fire is educating area firefighters for the next three months.

“Tactics and things that we’re doing today are things that have been learned from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, so they’ve been battle-proven...we don’t ever want to end up in a columbine or a parkland or any of those type of situations. However, if we do, we’re going to be prepared for it," said Chief Kazmierzak.

The national program was created in reaction to Columbine, because one teacher posted a sign in a window, saying "I am bleeding to death."

The teacher did end up bleeding to death, because they weren't able to get medical treatment for hours.

The Rescue Task Force team is trying to minimize deaths by getting to victims more quickly.

The departments that received the new vests are:

  • Penn Township
  • Clay Fire Territory
  • Southwest Central Fire Territory
  • Warren Township
  • New Carlisle


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