Increase in Active Shooter Response Training

170108141724-fort-lauderdale-airport-shooting-video-vo-tmz-3-exlarge-169Last week’s tragic shooting at Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood Airport is another chilling reminder of how vulnerable public places may be when there is a gunman with an agenda. Schools, malls, movie theaters, nightclubs, airports – the list goes on – have all been targeted by shooters.

These incidents have led many business owners, school administrators, and other public officials to ask just how they can prepare in the event the unthinkable happens and active shooter response trainings have expanded far beyond just law enforcement.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends the “run, hide, fight” model of defense for anyone who is trapped and unable to escape an active shooter. The agency recommends getting as far away as possible from where the shooter is and using whatever resources are available to hide behind to block bullets. As a last resort, those trapped should fight back, again using whatever is available as a weapon, such as furniture or fire extinguishers.

Several years ago, Emergency Film Group produced Active Shooter: Rapid Response training video. This program was developed under the direction of a technical committee comprised of experts in law enforcement and emergency response. The program was designed for school administration, law enforcement, emergency management, security and others who may be involved in the response to a mass shooting. To learn more about this program, check here . . .

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Excellent Training and Response Averts Tragedy in Ohio Campus Attack

active-shooterThe campus attack at Ohio State University on Monday was another stark reminder of just how crucial it is for colleges and universities to have full security measures in place to diffuse these incidents as quickly as possible. Although 11 people were injured in the attack, the outcome could have been much worse if not for the quick action of Ohio State police officer Alan Horujko, as well as the warning system the school had in place to warn students and faculty a campus attack was in progress.

The attacker, who attended the university, rammed his car into a group of students at 9:52 a.m. Within seconds, Officer Horujko called the incident in. Minutes later, the university sent out a campus alert reporting an active shooter incident, warning students to “Run Hide Fight.” Ohio State Emergency Management sent an alert out on Twitter and many students tweeted back they were safe in barricaded rooms and warned others to find safety.

Two minutes after the attacker crashed his car into the crowd and exited his vehicle wielding a knife, he was shot by Officer Horujko. The campus lockdown was lifted 90 minutes later.

Many officials, from the governor to the mayor of Columbus, credited the training and coordination between school officials and law enforcement with being able to respond so quickly and avert what could have been a much more tragic event. All the victims the attacker stabbed are expected to survive their injuries.

Training and coordination of agencies are key in any emergency response. This is why Emergency Film Group offers a wide-range of DVD-based training programs to ensure schools, hospitals, and industries are prepared for these unfortunate – but all too common – events. Check out our extensive library here. . .

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A Summer of Mass Shootings

There were several mass shootings this summer which resulted in multiple deaths throughout the country. In June, nine people were killed when an assailant opened fire in a Charleston, S.C. church. In July, five members of the military were killed when a shooter opened fire on a military recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tenn. A second mass shooting in July occurred inside a movie theater in Lafayette, La., where two women were fatally wounded and nine other people injured. And in August, a Virginia television news reporter and her cameraman were shot and killed when a shooter opened fire on them during a live broadcast.


According to a report released last year by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, there were 160 active shooter incidents in this country between 2000 and 2013. Forty-four of those attacks occurred in business settings and resulted in the deaths of 124 victims. Fifteen of the active shooting attacks took place in open space areas, with 45 victims killed. Houses of worship were targets in six of those attacks, and took the lives of 21 victims.

During an active shooter or mass shooting attack, a combined law enforcement, fire, and EMS response is critical. All of these active shooter incidents have led to a change in law enforcement response tactics; however, fire and EMS also need to understand the dangers that lurk at these incidents and how to protect themselves from a shooter determined on taking as many lives possible.


Emergency Film Group’s Active Shooter: Rapid Response DVD is a safety training program for school administration, law enforcement, emergency management and others who may be involved in the response to a mass shooting. This compelling program shows how preparedness for and response to these fast-breaking and dangerous events is a joint effort between police, fire, EMS, community and facility emergency management. The role of trained and equipped tactical medics is depicted as well as the more traditional activities of EMS during mass casualty incidents: scoop and run rescue, triage, treatment, and transport. In addition to providing emergency medical service, firefighters are also depicted assisting law enforcement in forcible entry, firefighting, and managing building sprinkler systems.


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FBI Foils Dirty Bomb Attempt by ISIL Sympathizer

A Florida man was recently arrested by the FBI on federal terrorism charges. Harlem Suarez, 23, who is also known as Almlak Benitez, was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, an offense that carries a potential sentence of up to life in prison. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says that Suarez was plotting to detonate a shrapnel-laden bomb on a beach in Key West.


Suarez caught the attention of the FBI in April, when someone reported that he was attempting to recruit people to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). One post read, “Stand up with us my brother. Stand up with the black flag and the AK with 10 mag, fight with us, be a gangster with us, kill our enemies and convert to Islam now in USA.”

The agency used a confidential source to interact with Suarez by cellphone, online, text messaging, and in person. Over the next few months, the two exchanged many conversations regarding the making of a bomb. The source told Suarez he knew someone who could make the bomb, and introduced him to an undercover FBI agent.

Last month, Suarez purchased materials to make the bomb, including galvanized nails. The plan was to place the bomb in a backpack and use a cellphone to remotely set it off. He then met with the confidential source and gave the source the materials, along with $100, to make the bomb. Several days later, he and the source met with the FBI agent, who gave them the bomb and instructions on how to explode it. The device was actually inert and could not be detonated. Moments after the exchange, federal agents moved in and Suarez was arrested.

Backpack Bomb Plot

Emergency Film Group’s IED Training Package provides the training to strengthen preparedness for a dirty bomb attack, as well as deterrence, prevention and protection capabilities. The four program package is now available at a huge discount for a limited time.

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Terrorists’ Use of WMD Still a Real Threat

Jihadist attacks against a Paris magazine office, a kosher market in that city, and the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa seem to signal a new reliance by terrorists on conventional weapons. But you would have to have a short memory not to remember the Mumbai Massacre and the Fort Hood Shootings.

Maybe it is because in France, Canada, and the U.S. assault weapons are easier to come by than the explosives that are the deadly force in countless IED attacks in the Middle East. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, the military, the intelligence community, and others designated with the task of protecting us from terrorist attacks, the likelihood is that the attacks will continue.

This is not lost on Americans. A recently released poll by the Pew Research Center, shows the public puts fighting terrorism above all other policy concerns for the first time in five years, edging out improving the nation’s economy which finished second in the poll.

In 1998, Osama bin Laden said that the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was a “religious duty.” In 2003, a fatwa by a radical cleric said it was legitimate to use such weapons to kill millions. There have been more than 50 reported attempts to acquire, create, or deploy WMD. Clearly, the possession of such weapons would give jihadists power on the world stage and lead to further recruitment of fighters.

This idea is still very much alive. A German journalist who imbedded with ISIL in Mosul for ten days, recently returned to report that Islamic State fighters are committed to killing millions who do not share the radical Islamists’ religious beliefs.

A major concern is the instability of certain nations that possess WMD as part of their military arsenal. Despite efforts to remove WMD from Syria, U.S. government sources have expressed fears that President Assad may have held back a small stash of chemical weapons.

In Iraq, it has been reported that ISIL fighters removed forty kilos of uranium from the University of Mosul. While the uranium was not enriched sufficiently to be a nuclear threat, it could well be used as in a radiological dispersion device. In the ISIL stronghold of Fallujah, a water treatment plant uses chlorine to treat sewage. Al Qaeda used chlorine cylinders in IEDs against coalition troops, but without much success. The laptop of an ISIL fighter, who had formerly been a university chemistry student, had plans for weaponizing bubonic plague and making ricin from castor beans. His whereabouts are unknown. Nor do we know if other chemists and scientists have joined ISIL’s cohort.

As hundreds of foreign fighters join ISIL every day there number now exceeds 15,000 including, it is estimated, some 2000 westerners. A top security concern is the potential return of these westerners to their native countries after having been groomed to carry out attacks in their homeland. The Charlie Hebdo attackers are a case in point.

As ISIL controls large swathes of land, the probability grows that people with the appropriate set of skills will find the right raw materials to fashion a WMD. It is an escalating threat which makes, “not if, but when” a prescient prediction. What we can do is train and prepare.

Emergency Film Group WMD Response Package II provides training and response guidelines to emergency personnel who would be called upon to respond to a WMD incident. This package contains four DVDs, two Resource CD-ROMs, and two Leader Guides.


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FEMA: EMS Should Enter Active Shooter ‘Warm Zones’ to Help Injured

A recent study released by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), endorsed by the Obama administration and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), recommends guidelines for first responders entering active shooter incident “warm zones.”

The guidelines are based on plans that were developed by the Hartford Consensus, a group of physicians and emergency response officials from the FBI, the Navy, the Dallas SWAT team and elsewhere.

Traditionally, EMS and other medical responders have to wait to enter an active shooter scene until law enforcement has completely cleared it. This delay in being able to respond to the injured frequently leads to victims dying from injuries that are treatable – such uncontrolled bleeding, collapsed lungs, and airway obstructions.

But the new guidelines recommend adopting procedures similar to ones that the military uses in combat – allowing medics quickly onto the battlefield to begin immediate treatment, thereby saving lives.


As active shooter incidents have become more frequent over the past few years, law enforcement has changed and developed policies and strategies on how they respond to these events. Many in the field say it’s also critical for fire and emergency medical services to also change their procedures in these events.

The plan calls for setting up stations in “warm zones” and also recommends increased use of tourniquets to stop bleeding. Widespread training of law enforcement and the general public of the use of tourniquets is also highly recommended. FEMA’s report can be found here. . . .

Emergency Film Group’s Active Shooter: Rapid Response is a safety training DVD program for organization which may be involved in the response to a mass shooting. The program contains a substantial EMS section. More information about this program can be found here. . .

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START Report Discusses Link Between TCOs and Islamic Terrorist Groups

A new report written by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism’s (START) in response to the recent theft in Mexico of a truck that was transporting radioactive material, concludes there are “substantial disincentives” for any type of collaboration between Islamic terrorist groups and Latin American-based transnational criminal organizations (TCOs).

For the past two years, START has been working on a project to determine what the potential alliances are of these two groups and if they could work together in order to  obtain radiological and nuclear materials.

The organization concluded that Islamic terrorists would have little reason to trust the TCOs, given the great differences in worldviews. There are several reasons cited in the report that TCO’s would be hesitant to work with Islamic terrorist group, with one of the main reasons being profit-motivation that drives most of these TCOs. The risks involved to the group’s safety, as well as retaliation from authorities, are other factors that inhibit this collaboration.  

Recovered cobalt-60. Recovered cobalt-60.

Although the recent theft of the truck carrying cobalt-60 wasn’t connected to terrorist activities, it did send up red flags over the potential consequences if this activity were to take place. However, according to the report, “Although unfounded, the recent incident in Mexico stirred concern regarding the potential for criminal organizations to acquire, smuggle and sell radiological materials, possibly to terrorist organizations. While there are many potential intersections between TCOs and terrorists, ranging from hybrid organizations to ideologically- or kinship-based collaboration, the scenario that seems to be of most concern to policymakers is TCOs utilizing their existing pathways and infrastructures for smuggling drugs, human beings and other cargo into the United States in order to provide a ‘delivery service’ for terrorists to smuggle RN weapons or materials into the United States.”

START says that although there is no indication that TCOs and Islamic terrorist groups are working together, there is “significant evidence of collaboration in drug trafficking and the transportation of members of terrorist organizations in and out of Central and South America.”

The report shared these conclusions of what the effects a “dirty bomb” explosion could have on the general population:

“At a minimum, “a radiological attack would entail considerable costs for cleaning up the attack site and may lead to at least the temporary displacement of people residing in the area where the attack occurred. The disruptive psychological impact on a public largely unaware about the effects of radiological terrorism would likely be far more damaging than the actual physical destruction, and could result in billions of dollars in economic damage and could stress the public health system.”   

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Dry Ice Bombs Planted and Explode at LAX

A baggage handler has been arrested and is being held on $1 million bail for planting several dry ice bombs in restricted access areas at the Los Angeles International Airport. Two of the bombs exploded.

According to police officials, on Sunday evening, a bomb exploded outside a restroom located in Terminal 2, an area the public is not allowed in. A 20-ounce plastic bottle containing dry ice was found at the location. No injuries were reported, but operations at the terminal were suspended and flights were delayed as a precaution.

Monday evening, an employee found a bomb that was fizzing, but had not exploded, near the gate of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. This is another area off-limits to the public. When police arrived, the employee told them he had found another similar device which had exploded the night before, but didn’t realize what it was until he discovered this second device.

Demonstration of a dry ice explosion. Demonstration of a dry ice explosion.

On Tuesday, 28 year-old Dicarlo Bennett, an employee of Servisair, was arrested on suspicion of possessing and exploding a destructive device near an aircraft. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Dept. said that terrorism was not the motive for Bennett’s actions. Instead, Deputy Chief Michael Downing referred to Bennett as a “prankster” who thought planting the bombs was humorous.

Investigators say that despite there not being any video evidence showing Bennett planting the bombs, there is plenty of other evidence linking him to the crime. It is believed he took the dry ice used in making the bombs directly from an airplane.

Emergency Film Group’s Terrorism: Explosive & Incendiary Weapons examines pre- and post-detonation response to IEDs, dirty bombs, secondary devices, and much more. This program is part of the WMD Response Series and can also be purchased separately. To learn more, read here. . .

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Kenyan Mall Attack Prompts US Retailers to Prepare for Terrorist Attacks Here

The recent terrorist attack at a Kenyan shopping mall highlights the need for retailers to work with law enforcement to ensure the safety of both employees and customers here in the United States.

At a recent hearing in front of the House Committee on Homeland Security, National Retail Federation (NRF) Vice President Richard Mellor addressed those concerns and the association’s commitment to respond to those threats.

Mellor, who is a former police officer, has been working in the area of public safety for forty years. He categorized shopping malls and other retail establishments as “soft targets” and testified that no one would have predicted or have been prepared for an attack such as the devastating one that took place at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last month.

That attack, carried out by Somalia’s militant group Al Shabaab, lasted three days, killing 72 people and injuring over 200 more. Part of the mall collapsed from a huge fire that was caused by fierce gun battles between the terrorists and security forces.

kenya Victims of mass shooting at Kenyan mall.

Mellor stated in this testimony that NRF is constantly working with law enforcement, as well as other local, state and federal agencies on developing active shooter responses that fall within the Department of Homeland Security guidelines.  

“Retailers have sophisticated protocols to deal with the threats from a wide range of situations, including organized retail crime (ORC) activities, robbery, active shooter incidents, impacts from natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornadoes as well as being a potential target for a terrorist attack,” Mellor testified. “Because these threats are always present, retailers invest heavily to ensure that they are prepared to deal with any and all threats against their businesses, their employees and their customers. Moreover, retailers are consistently evaluating the effectiveness of their programs and seeking improvements. As criminals and threats become more sophisticated, so do retailers.”

Emergency Film Group’s Handling Emergencies DVD teaches professional security officers and other personnel how to respond to incidents, including workplace violence, in the facilities that they protect. Our Countering Terrorism DVD helps prepare security personnel in the event of a terrorist attack affecting their facility. Both are part of the Professional Security Officer Series.

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