Monday, February 11, 2019

Embracing Traditions in the Modern Fire Service

Article by Tom Warren

Today’s fire service makes use of some of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced equipment available. My short 33-year career witnessed advances that both protected firefighters as made their work more efficient and safer. When I started my career, it seemed that things were very far advanced compared to some of the old trucks and equipment found in the closets and fire stations throughout the city. Yet today’s firefighters may look at the equipment we relied on 30 years ago and wonder how we ever put out any fires.
The advances in equipmenttechnology, and procedures are staggering and modern firefighters embrace this evolution, knowing that there is still more to come in their careers. This latest generation of firefighters was born in the technology era, and these members may expect nothing else but a continuation of technological advances.
Equipment such as thermal imaging cameras can locate victims very quickly and with pinpoint accuracy. When compared to a firefighter searching a room with one hand on the outside wall and swinging an ax or pole on the floor in an attempt to locate a victim, it seems impossible that we ever found any victims. The high-tech fabrics used for our personal protective equipment (PPE) are much better than the rubber coats, aluminum helmets, and three-quarter boots that were once standard issue. Portable radios and PASS devices are now part of every firefighter’s standard equipment, where once the only portable radio on the fireground was reserved for the chief and was the size of a small suitcase.  Fire apparatus is designed with the firefighter’s safety in mind with features like air conditioning, sound proofing, seat belts, powerful engines and braking systems, and communication and computer equipment at the officer’s fingertips.
Through the efforts of numerous safety organizations, labor organizations, and professional organizations, most fire departments operate using specific guidelines or standard operating procedures, avoiding confusion and providing accountability and safer fireground operations. This single procedural development enables every firefighter to understand what is expected of him or her as well as every other firefighter operating on the fireground. Adopting the standard training levels for firefighters (National Fire Protection Association 1001, Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications) and training to these levels means that firefighters are fully prepared to assume their role in their fire department. Another historic development in the fire service is the adoption of the National Incident Management System. This operational guide provides a systematic structure to achieve operational objectives at any type of emergency. We can now respond to any incident in any jurisdiction and know with certainty where we fit in, what our mission is, and whom we report to. Firefighters and fire officers can enhance their knowledge with professional development through programs offered at the National Fire Academy as well as degree programs at many colleges and universities.
There clearly has been an unstoppable march of progress in the fire service, allowing today’s firefighters to respond to emergencies armed with the best equipment, technology, training and operational guidelines than ever before.
As much as every young firefighter entering the fire service today appreciates and expects the latest in technology, equipment, and operational oversight, it seems that all young firefighters have a thirst for the history and traditions of the fire service and of those who came before them. There is no other occupation that is as steeped in tradition and history. Firefighters cherish this historical connection with the firefighters and fires that came before them. In the movie “Backdraft,” there is a scene where some young firefighters are in the firehouse and on the wall behind them hangs a banner that says, “Chicago Fire Department, 150 years of Tradition Unimpeded by Progress.” This is at the heart of the passion that firefighters feel for their chosen profession, a passion that likely does not exist in any other profession.  Firefighters feel this connection to the past very deeply and wish to carry on these fire service traditions in their careers. As their careers progress and they become mentors to younger firefighters, they are anxious to pass these traditions on to these next generation.  
When firefighters start their career, they begin to see the history of their departments as the instructors begin the training program, which always includes the history of the fire service. The instructors will talk about their experiences, and are usually full of war stories of days gone by and the characters that make up the fire department. It does not take long before new firefighters want to be part of this family of firefighters and hear all the colorful stories of their department and beyond. They are anxious to take their place in the history of the fire department they have joined.
New firefighters are always curious about how Dalmatians became firehouse mascots. At some point, the question will come up and an instructor will tell the young firefighters that when horses were used to pull the steamers and hose wagons, the Dalmatian dogs were used to keep the horses calm while responding to fires. The Dalmatians would run around the responding horses and scare away other animals that would bother the horses. These Dalmatians were friendly dogs and bonded with the firefighters and horses alike.  We all are aware that there is no need for a Dalmatian with today’s fire apparatus, yet we still see them in many firehouses, and they are great mascots when firefighters visit local schools. (1)
Our traditions can be traced to Rome, where the first recognized firefighting force was organized by August Caesar in 23 BC and was called Familia Publica.  This firefighting force was made up of slaves and had limited success. Something every fire department has in one form or another is the Maltese Cross. Every department uses this symbol in some way, either in the design of their department insignia or badge. The origins of the Maltese Cross date back to the time of the Crusades. The Saracens would defend themselves by throwing glass containers filled with naphtha at the attacking Christian Knights. Once the Christian Knights were covered with naphtha, the Saracens would throw flaming torches at the Christian Knights, causing them to be burned inside their armor.  The Christian Knights were awarded a cross to recognize their bravery during these attacks. The crosses awarded became known as the Maltese Cross. This symbol of bravery and honor continues today. (1)
In the time before radios became commonplace on the fireground, orders and direction by the chief were sent via trumpets or speaking trumpets, which is simply a megaphone-type tool. It was the chief who used these trumpets at fires, and they became very ornate and the symbol of authority.  In today’s fire service, the trumpets have been replaced with radio communication, but this symbol of authority is still part of the modern fire service. The trumpets are now used to designate the rank of fire officers. One trumpet designates a lieutenant, two trumpets designate a captain, and gold-crossed trumpets designate a Chief. The Chief of Department is designated with five crossed trumpets. Firefighters and fire officers study long and hard to earn the honor to wear trumpets on their collar.
In firehouses across the country, the walls are covered with pictures of major fires that their fire company responded to and of the apparatus that was assigned to that fire company over the years. One can also find pictures of the members of that fire company dating back many years. Gold- or silver-plated fire equipment used many years ago can be found mounted on a plaque and hanging on the walls. Newspaper articles depicting heroic efforts of the members of that fire company can also be found framed and hanging on the walls.
The fire apparatus, more commonly referred to, as “the rig,” is a moving tribute to the history of a fire company. The rig is always kept in an impressively pristine condition. The company numbers are usually displayed on all four sides of the rig and possibly on the roof for the aerial photographs. Most fire companies have a logo or slogan that defines the heritage of the fire company: “Screaming Eagles,” “The Pride of Federal Hill,” “The Nut House,” “Broad Street Bullies,” or “La Casa Grande” to name a few. These logos are an important part of the fire company and they distinguish it from other fire companies. The logos contribute to the morale and camaraderie found in the best fire companies and can be found on the firehouse itself (inside and outside), the rig, and on patches. Firefighters are fiercely proud of these logos.
I can’t think of another profession that openly displays its history and traditions as the fire service does. Young people line up and take difficult written and physical tests to become part of the fire service aware of all these traditions and deep history the fire service embraces. They are very anxious to become part of it. At the other end of a firefighters career it is equally difficult for firefighters to leave this profession when the time comes.

Tom WarrenThomas N. Warren has more than 40 years of experience in the fire service in both career and volunteer departments. He retired as assistant chief of department of the Providence (RI) Fire Department after 33 years of service. Presently he is a faculty member at Bristol Community College in the Fire Science Technology Program teaching a variety of subjects in the fire science discipline. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in fire science from Providence College, an Associate’s Degree in business administration from the Community College of Rhode Island and a Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health from Roger Williams University.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Established in 2003, Unruh Fire, located in Sedgwick Kansas, has been a leader in the fire apparatus industry building brush trucks, quick attach trucks, light rescue trucks, fire training trailers, skid units and rescue trailers. Our parent company, Unruh Fab, has been in business for 40 years and is considered a leader in the custom manufacturing of bulk glass transportation trailers, bodies and racks.

In 1997 Unruh Fab was purchased by an investment group who wanted to expand the business using Unruh’s equipment manufacturing knowledge and skilled craftsmen. As the new owners discussed potential growth opportunities with the Unruh employees they discovered that one of shop foreman was a career firefighter. This led to discussions about idea of building truck for the fire industry. In 2002 Unruh built their first brush truck and displayed it at the FDIC show in 2003 where it was sold immediately. Upon returning to Kansas Unruh built a second truck and displayed it at the FRI show where again it was sold immediately.

The investment group was excited about the reaction to these first two trucks and ultimately Unruh Fire was born. Since the first truck in 2003, Unruh Fire has significantly expanded its product offering to include a full line of fire and rescue trucks.

The expansion began in 2007 when Unruh Fire purchased a company that specialized in the production of high end horse trailers. The knowledge gained from this acquisition gave way to the expansion of our fire line by offering highly specialized fire training trailers and fire command trailers. Also in 2007 a new 20,000 square foot shop facility was built and was dedicated solely to manufacturing of fire vehicles. This new facility allowed Unruh Fire to prepare for further acquisitions and growth. In 2009 Unruh purchased the Mertz/Marco line of high pressure skid units, a leading manufacturer of High pressure/Low volume skid units for ATV’s, trailers and pick-ups. And finally, in 2012 Unruh acquired the Renegade ARFF line of airport rescue vehicles. All three businesses were eventually relocated to the Unruh Fire headquarters in Kansas.

Since 2003 we have stood behind our motto “Built by Firefighters, for Firefighters”. We employ volunteer, retired and career firefighters who are involved in all aspects of the process from the initial product inquiry to the final delivery. By doing this our customers can be confident that the folks they’re working with truly understand the fire industry and the demands of fire service. At Unruh Fire, we are proud of the products we produce and we stand behind everything we build. For more information about the Unruh businesses visit our websites at: and

Sutphen Springfield

Today, Sutphen is comprised of five factories. The main office of Sutphen Corporation is located in Dublin, OH. Sutphen Springfield is located 45 miles west of the main office and is the start of the Sutphen manufacturing line. Celebrating its tenth year, Sutphen invested nearly $2 million in new construction in 2008 to create the Chassis division in Springfield. Sutphen Custom Chassis are assembled here using name brand components. Everything from the frame rails to the drivable chassis is handled here. The Sutphen Chassis Division operates out of a 55,000 sf and employs more than 65. This plant also produces the Commercial line and our Guardian pumpers.
Since 1968, our experience and focus on the fire service have driven Sutphen to build the industry’s most Extreme Duty Chassis.  Every inch of our custom chassis is built to withstand the most severe firefighting conditions.  From the cab construction, heavy wall 6061 T6 aluminum extrusions and heavy duty aluminum plate, to the steel box tube design Subframe under cab, our chassis provides superior crash protection and is fully certified to meet all ASME and ECE standards.  Our standard double frame rails, cross members, and suspension hangers are Huck Bolted with Grade 8 fasteners, and are bead blasted to prep the surface for better adhesion of the Cathacoat primer and durable Imron top coat paint to ensure that it will be long lasting and safe from corrosion. The front and rear suspension work together resulting in superior handling, a smoother ride, and better turning radius.  Interior durability is just as important.  We utilize high quality, extreme duty products to provide a rugged interior. 

Volunteer Firefighters Continue to Decrease

In the United States, the number of volunteer firefighters have continued to decrease since the early 1980’s. It wasn’t uncommon for a department to have a long waiting list, requiring someone to retire before you could join as a volunteer. Now and days, volunteer fire departments are responding to more calls with fewer volunteers. Volunteer departments continue to become increasingly short staffed, yet the need of the public continues to rise. As volunteer fire departments dwindle in size, many have been asked to do more with less. Additionally, as the district grows with residents and buildings, it creates more work, more alarms and a greater need.
The challenge in recruiting new volunteer firefighters is quite simply the difficulty locating people who are willing to take the time to get the certification it takes to be a firefighter today. Federal standards created to enact safety for firefighters have inadvertently created barriers for volunteer services as it now takes hundreds of hours to become certified. Additionally, the cost of training often falls onto the new firefighter. It’s understandable that training requirements continue to increase as firefighters are being asked to do more. Putting water on fire used to be the job description but that is not the description anymore as other emergency needs are becoming more prominent. Terrorist attacks and improvised explosive devices, malfunctioning solar panels and wind turbines, ethanol and natural gas fires, and electric- and hydrogen-powered vehicle accidents are just some of the emergencies firefighters respond to and for which specialized training is needed.
Nearly a quarter of departments have a mix of career and volunteer firefighters which can be off-putting to new volunteers working alongside people who are getting paid for doing the same job. Especially in rural regions, there isn’t a large enough tax base to be able to afford to pay firefighters which is a major reason volunteers are vital to the community. In these areas with understaffed volunteer departments, it is not uncommon to have longer response times, ten plus minutes, whereas in cities with paid firefighters, the response times can be three minutes. This is ultimately a decision the taxpaying community that must decide on the level of service they want.
Despite the pride that comes with being a volunteer firefighter, many states have determined benefits should be granted. Many departments offer property tax abatements, income tax credits and death benefits if they die in the line of duty. Most states allow volunteer departments to provide workers’ compensation, often through state-run programs. Benefits are important to compensate volunteers for their time, but also to show that the community values their service. To learn more about volunteering in your area, contact your local fire department.

The number of fire-related calls for both paid and volunteer firefighters has dropped by more than 3.6 million since 1986. In 2012, only 5 percent of calls were for actual fires. However, the number of responses has jumped by 167 percent  largely because medical responses have gone up by 15.2 million.

Illinois Firefighter Peer Support

We probably all remember our first day in the firehouse. You probably also remember the training program. Whether it was in-house training or a local academy, you no doubt learned the basics. As they should, they likely stressed the importance of how to safely enter a life-threatening atmosphere— fully encapsulated for your safety, remembering to keep your mask on through overhaul and keeping your hood up so that no skin is exposed.

While all of that is very important, the one thing we have never taken time to teach about is the importance of protecting your mental health. Whether you are in a busy urban firehouse or, on a rural department, you will without question be faced with some horrific situations. While some of us have a good structure of people that can help us process some of the things we see, not all of us do. There is a limited pool of people for first responders to talk to because most people just do not have the life experience to relate to the things we see.

This is where Illinois Fire Fighter Peer Support comes in. We are a group of trained firefighters and emergency responders who answer the call to their brothers and sisters in need, regardless of what that need is. ILFFPS is here for all fire and EMS first responders throughout the state including full-time, part-time, urban, and rural. We even help our neighboring states when the need arises. We receive calls from our 8-5-5 number or through the website. After pairing up two peers, the original request is deleted. ILFFPS never has and never will keep personal information. Everything is anonymous. 

When meeting with a peer, our mantra is, “Listen / Relate / Validate.” We train our peers on listening skills so that they can be a presence for the person that requests help. Additionally, all our peers are current or retired first responders, they have had similar experiences and can easily relate to your struggles. The last piece is validation. Because of our shared experience, we can say that we have been there. It’s ok to not be ok, today.
Most situations are what we call a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. The latest studies indicate that in order to decrease the likelihood of PTSD, the window for reaching out after a traumatic event is ten days. Reaching out can include talking to a trusted friend, a chaplain, or a peer. What is important is that we make it safe to reach out, make it safe to say “something affected me.” 

For more information please check us out on Facebook or visit us on the web at 

Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Inaugural Symposium
March 21-22, 2019
Double Tree by Hilton
1909 Spring Road
Oak Brook, IL 60523


Human Tune-Up

On every fire apparatus, there is a multitude of tools and equipment that must be used and maintained. If this equipment is not cleaned, serviced and cared for properly, it may fail or not last very long. The same goes for people. A firefighter deals with mental and physical fatigue nearly every shift and must regularly practice self-maintenance.

Fire departments are replete with individuals who exhibit a take charge, control-oriented mentality; comfortable in the role of rescuer. First responders are generally altruistic, fearless and intrinsically motivated individuals who may occasionally struggle to identify when it is time to take a break for self-care. Additionally, industry stigma prevents many from seeking mental health services as the culture often interprets it as a sign of weakness. Due to this ‘man-up’ culture, little has been done to address trauma and depression with first responders, even though they are five times more likely to suffer from symptoms than the public.
First responders are more likely to suffer from mental illness for a variety of reasons. The most obvious perhaps are the core duties of the job, such as running into burning buildings and providing triage to wounded victims. To compound an already stressful field, the rotating work schedules add another layer of challenges, specifically from lack of sleep. It never fails, as soon as you doze-off the alarms sound and back on the engine to respond to a call but even if it’s a quiet night around the firehouse, the quality of sleep is never equivalent to adequate sleep required. Long nights without sleep deprives our bodies of important neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine that affect mood. Rotating shifts and being on call can also make it difficult to eat regularly and healthy, same as the challenges of adequately exercising; both compounding the difficulties of achieving balance in the body. Furthermore, low rates of pay can lead to financial hardships for some first responder families.

All the challenges of the job can easily manifest depression and post-traumatic stress disorder which can externalize in emotional, behavioral and physical reactions. Fatigue, memory loss, personality changes, mood swings, weight gain or loss and disease-prone immune processes are all identifiers of stress and more so, stress that is not being managed well. Stress can be compared to pain tolerance in the manner that we all have different comfort levels. Something that might affect you greatly may not be the same for a co-worker. This is important to understand as the stigma of taking care of ourselves mentally is not widely supported in the industry but teasing or downplaying each other’s feelings is prevalent and just as damaging. It’s important to respect that everything is relative and be mindful of how you react to others situations or grief.
The interesting aspect to unravel is first responders focus on helping others in any and every way possible, and in the fire industry, there is a two-in two-out rule to ensure no man is subjected to danger alone. However, supporting each other with mental health needs is often snickered at by those that built a profession on helping people. It’s an interesting dynamic and one that should change.

On average, 100 firefighters die each year in the line of duty, most often for physical struggles leading to cardiac arrest which is why standards for physical health are emphasized. It should also be known that even more die from suicide. It’s time to make a purposeful change to the culture of the industry and start by giving yourself a tune-up.

AR-15: As American as Apple Pie; a deep look into mass shootings.

We debate the reason for mass shootings after each tragedy occurs and those reasons vary depending on one’s personal and political beliefs. Arguments about gun violence, mental health and how firearms should be regulated are the main discussions following a tragedy. The fact is, there is no single reason for why someone goes on a rampage, yet the rate of occurrences has continued to increase in the United States. There is significant research on mass shootings, both profiling the shooter and evaluating events to create an evolving toolbox. One difficulty in assessing the research is how a mass shooting is defined and the methodologies of the group collecting the data. There isn’t one widely accepted definition of mass shooting as people tend to restrict or broaden definitions to reinforce their position, usually based on gun control. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service definition of a mass public shooting is “a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms in at least one or more public locations, including schools.”
Since the August 1st, 1966 shooting at the University of Texas tower shooting in Austin with 17 killed and 30 injured, there has been an additional 151 public shootings in which four or more were killed. There has been an unwavering 1,091 persons killed, 184 were children and thousands of survivors left with devastating injuries – both physically and emotionally. People who lost their lives in the 152 shootings came from nearly every race, religion, socioeconomic status and age. A common type of weapon used in mass shootings are semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15. AR refers to ArmaLite rifle often misinterpreted as an assault rifle. There is somewhere between 6 million and 10 million semi-automatic rifles in circulation in the United States.
Reasons the United States has Mass Shootings
About five percent of the world’s population resides in the U.S. however, 31 percent of mass shootings occur in the State’s. Here a list of reasons that potentially answer the question of why.

The Copycat Phenomenon: Mass shootings have the potential to spawn others, almost like mass killings are contagious. When an incident occurs, it increases the odds that another incident will occur within the next couple of weeks following. The next murderer will attempt to outdo the last by obtaining a larger head count or creating something that will cause more of a stir.

The Media: When a mass shooting occurs, the media is quick to report – saturating television, the airways and print, potentially causing numbness to the events when constantly seeing and hearing about the catastrophe’s. The media frenzies play a role in the copycat theory. When an individual wants to mimic what they see other people do is known as an ‘imitation crime.’ The youngest form of media is said to be video games and studies link those who play violent games for several hours each day are more likely to experience aggressive thoughts.

Gun Laws: One of the most discussed reasons following a mass shooting, especially politically, is a person’s ability to access firearms. Despite conversations for decades and more so recently, the laws have not significantly changed.

Access to Guns: When purchasing a gun at a store, a background check is conducted requiring the purchaser to provide personal information and answer questions including if they have been admitted into a mental facility. The store clerk, rather at a gun shop or Walmart will call the FBI and run the background check through NCIS. Denials occur less than one-percent of the time. Some claim, it’s easier to purchase a gun in the United States than to adopt a dog.

Assault Weapon Band: Congress passed a law in 1994 implementing a ten-year ban on manufacturing 19 different military-style assault weapons. In September of 2004, Congress did not renew the ban when it expired. It’s interesting to evaluate how this federal law affected mass shootings. Former President Bill Clinton stated to the Washington Post in 2013, "Half of all mass killings in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005, half of all of them in the history of the country." From 2013 when Former President Clinton made this statement until now, the attacks have only increased and become deadlier.
It’s important to consider population growth when determining if the ban decreased mass shootings and if more occurred when the ban wasn’t renewed by Congress. If you have an increase in events but also a higher population both the numerator and denominator increases and therefore the outcome could be the same when evaluating by capital. Nevertheless, public mass shootings have become deadlier as the number of victims has increase since the expiration of the assault weapon ban. Of course, the effect on the ban wouldn’t be instantaneous as it would take time for manufactures to begin producing the weapons suddenly legal.
National Rifle Association: The NRA holds a part in dissecting the reasons of mass shootings as they greatly influence congress through fiscal contributions and strong lobbyist. Since 1998, the NRA has spent a total of $203.2 million on political activities. According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ database, the NRA contributed $13 million to political candidates, parties and leadership between 1998 and 2016. However, direct contributions are a small part of their spending on influencing policy. The NRA spending largely consists of independent expenditures which often takes the form of campaign ads carried out without directly coordinating with the candidate they are supporting. During the same time, it is said the NRA spent $144.3 million on outside spending. An additional $45.9 million was spent on federal lobbying. Policy is greatly influenced by the NRA financial contributions.
The Desire for Fame: There is a connection between mass shootings and the desire for fame. Often, the shooter posts actions to social media leading up to the main event.

Masculinity: Almost all mass shootings are committed by men. Sociologist claim there are two explanations of why American men almost universally commit these acts of terror – a social psychological explanation as well as a cultural explanation.
-          A Social Psychological Explanation: When someone’s identity they care about is challenged by another, they are likely to respond by over-demonstrating characteristics associated with that identity. This often occurs when someone’s manhood is questioned, they react by proving they are manly based on societies standards, such as flexing their muscles. Sociologist have coined this “masculinity threat.”
-          A Cultural Explanation: Historically, men have benefited from privilege, especially Caucasian, educated, ambulatory, heterosexual men. Inequality remains abundant in America but over time, social movements have begun to erode those unsaid privileges.
From a worldly standpoint, it seems American culture influences young men to participate in higher rates of violent activities. If mass shootings are enactments of proving masculinity, and one’s masculinity is questioned, combined with losing the grip on privileged birthrights, could cause a young man to feel unjustified, resulting in overacting. Psychologists Joseph Vandello and Jennifer Bosson argue that 'manhood' is a status that must be continually earned, and one's self-worth is tied to being perceived as a 'real man.'
Psychiatric Medications: The list of side effect of any medication seems to be longer than the cures they offer. With many psychiatric medications, specifically selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) drugs often include violent behaviors and suicide. Many of the mass shooters over the past several decades were taking some kind of psychotropic drug at the time of the event or shorty before.

Mental Illness: While we are quick to assume mental illness is the underlying cause for mass shooters, the data doesn’t prove the assumption, although it is a likely factor. When analyzing the numbers, most mass shooters in the U.S. are found to be sane and not have any signs of a significant mental illness. On the contrary, mental health is still stigmatized causing many people to go undiagnosed until it’s too late. Additionally, it has been illegal for the Centers for Disease Control to try and determine the underlying cause of mass shootings making it ultimately difficult to say for sure.

The Social Security Administration, under Former President Barack Obama, issued a rule to share the names of those who lack the mental capacity to ‘manage his or her own affairs’ to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in efforts to step-up gun sales monitoring. President Donald Trump with the support of Congress claimed it was too broad and rescinded the rule.

Summation: There are an abundance of reasons why people implement mass shootings which is why it is difficult to place blame on one single reason. The best way to narrow down the underlying cause of these attacks is by looking at all the facts objectively. Firearm availability and weak gun laws, media coverage and the need to prove masculinity combined with mental instability largely explain why mass shootings in the United States have become more frequent and deadlier.

Medical & Psychological Explanations

While it seems logical that mental illness plays a role in mass shootings, even if the shooter has not been diagnosed or have a long-term illness, we need to believe there must be some instability to follow through with the premeditated attack. With that said, mental instability is not a good predictor of attacks.

-          Young Male Syndrome: High levels of risk, competitiveness and violence.

Psychologist Frank McAndrew from Knox College in Illinois has thoroughly studied and researched what is known as ‘young male syndrome’ linking the evolutionary need to compete paired with the effects of guns on testosterone. 'Young male violence is most likely to be initiated by young men who don't command respect from others,' explained Professor McAndrew. 'They'll often feel like slighted outcasts, deprived of what they want or feel they deserve.' Looking back at the 2014 attack in Santa Barbara, college student Elliot Rodger posted a YouTube video holding a gun and saying, “who’s the alpha now, bitches?” is a prime example of McAndrew’s work.

The Experiment: Males showed a greater level of testosterone and exhibited aggressive behavior when presented with a gun than those playing a board game, as proven in a study performed by McAndrew. Separated in two groups, half the men were given a gun to play with and half played a board game. All the men were then asked to put hot sauce into drinking water that another person would be drinking. As you may assume, those who played with the gun put more sauce in the water. Additionally, when told no one would be drinking the contaminated water, those who played with the gun showed greater disappointment.
Profiling a Shooter
Psychologist Peter Langman, who studied mass shooters stated, "In most cases, there's a long trail leading up to the actual act of violence.” When evaluating shooters after the event, it seems easy to pick out the red flags leading up to the incident, but hindsight is 20-20. The red flags are not as bright and visual before the attack is executed. "There are certainly a lot of people who have a lot of things go wrong, and they're not committing mass murders," said Mary Muscari, a forensic nurse who has researched mass killers at Binghamton University in New York. Because mass shootings are rare, there is a small pool of people and evidence to evaluate. What we can speculate from the research done thus far is that a mass shooting is generally committed by a male, often young and feels powerless, rejected or subpar socially with low self-esteem. “Many mass shootings are motivated by revenge or envy. That's why many take place at a school or a workplace where shooters felt rejected,” said Tony Farrenkopf, a forensic psychologist in Portland. He goes on to say, “there is usually a triggering event such as a lost job or a falling out with a girlfriend that finally makes them snap.” At the end of the day, it is nearly impossible to single out the next shooter, separating them from millions of others who are similar and may never kill.
Preventing the Next Event
There isn’t a crystal ball to reveal the next attack. Research and experts have identified many ways to potentially prevent mass shootings but none of the answers are simple, or cheap. From gun control, school marshal program, metal detectors to increased mental health programs – not one will achieve preventing the next event. Therefore, we must all be aware, knowledgeable and train to be ready when a situation arises.
First Responders across the Country must be ready to respond to a mass shooting call - it can happen anywhere. The public has a high expectation that emergency responders will respond quickly and effectively.
Previous Events: The best way to train for future events is to review and analyze previous events. In April 2018, the FBI released a report titled “Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017” analyzing 50 events. The report reveals all 50 shooters were male and acted alone. They were responsible for 221 people killed and 722 wounded. The three highest casualty events during this time include Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas (58 killed, 489 wounded), First Baptist Church in Texas (26 killed, 20 wounded) and Pulse Nightclub in Orland (49 killed, 53 wounded). These three attacks account for 60% of persons killed and nearly 78% of the wounded. This report supplements previous reports including “Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2014 and 2015” and “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013.” Police and fire chiefs, fire and EMS leaders, training officers, exercise planners, educators and field personnel are encouraged to read all three FBI reports.
Parkland, Florida: The rescue attempts at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School can be a great learning tool. The lack of communication, coordination and leadership in Parkland may have had an immediate impact on the delivery of care. Deputy Chief Michael McNally’s request to send in Rescue Task Forces comprised of teams of EMTs escorted by police officers was denied a total of six time, including after the shooter had been arrested, according to his written incident report. McNally wrote, "The [Broward County Sheriff's Office] incident commander advised me, ‘She would have to check.’ After several minutes, I requested once again the need to deploy RTF elements into the scene to initiate treatment as soon as possible. Once again, the incident commander expressed that she ‘would have to check before approving this request.’" Failure to allow the Task Force into the high school is potentially a life-threatening reminder that more pre-planning, training and on-scene coordination is needed to ensure that victims receive care as soon as possible.

Collaborating with Police, Fire and EMS: Multi-jurisdiction plans must be created, regularly reviewed and issued to all levels of emergency service personnel. The best time to ensure a Rescue Task Force will be allowed into a building with an active shooter is before the incident happens. The FBI report provides an inter-agency training for active shooter events for multiple environments. While schools are often at the top of the list, emergency personnel should have adaptable protocols for community buildings, churches, businesses and large outdoor gatherings.