On August 24, 2018, the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) took the initiative to lead in the efforts to bring about a much-needed change in training for “The Active Shooter” response. Chris Wigginton, Director of the GPSTC hosted this interdisciplinary leadership forum on the main campus in Forsyth, Georgia. He was very pleased to welcome approximately 450 guests, filling the auditorium to near full capacity. Director Wigginton stated, “I am very thankful to see such an overwhelming number in attendance today, who came under one roof for a common goal.” Attendees represented leaders from the disciplines of Law Enforcement, Fire Service, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Homeland Security, Centers for Disease Control, Hospitals/Medical Assistance, Emergency Management Agencies, and 911 Communications.
Mass injury, mass casualty incidents are continuously evolving and becoming all too common, and no one is immune. This unfortunate trend demands for a new approach to response training and the GPSTC is dedicated to developing an innovative training model that brings all agencies together for the common goal of saving lives. “This will forever ring true, because just two short days after the forum in Forsyth, GA there was an Active Shooter that produced mass casualties in Jacksonville, FL. This is why we must all train and be prepared,” Wigginton stated. The forum was unique as input was gathered from multiple disciplines on how to proceed forward evaluating best practices to produce a standard training curriculum to be delivered across the state by the GPSTC. The curriculum will ultimately be presented to GPSTC Regional Academy instructors and taught throughout the State. The development of training will focus on a holistic approach that uses all available resources, maximizing each one’s strengths, to provide the most efficient and effective response.
The Introduction and Vision for the day’s event was delivered by the GPSTC Director Chris Wigginton along with Bruce Stanford, Director of the Georgia Police Academy and Ike McConnell, Director of the Georgia Fire Academy. Also speaking on the vision of where we are headed and how to bridge the gap, was Chad Black, Chairman Georgia EMS, Darnell Fullum, Chief DeKalb County Fire & Rescue, and Kelly Joiner representing State EMS & Trauma. Attendees heard from presenters from agencies having experienced a mass injury, mass casualty incident or a near miss, firsthand. Speakers shared the approaches and tactics that went well and those that did not. The guest speakers included Gwinnett County’s Captain Troy Smith and Chief Deputy William Wash who spoke on the 2013 Gwinnett Firefighter Hostage Incident as well as Bill Justice of the Oklahoma University Center for Prehospital & Disaster Medical & US Marshall’s Taskforce and Sheriff Gary Sisk with Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office.
The forum concluded with a question and answer session with a distinguished panel representing many disciplines of public safety. The forum was a tremendous success with great dialogue taking place among attendees and the panel where ideas and solutions were discussed to end the day. This leadership forum was just a prelude to the development of training focusing on that all-inclusive approach using all available resources, maximizing each one’s strengths, and providing the most efficient and effective response. The results of this forum will most likely produce a committee or a board to determine the standard model in which to develop this much needed training.