By: Najla Alexander
Morris County officials announced that the Morris County Rescue Task Force (RTF) Program continues to provide first responders in Morris County with training and equipment to deal with critical emergency situations such as an active shooter or an active assailant incident that could result in multiple casualties.Officials say the program was created through a partnership that includes the Morris County Office of Emergency Management & Emergency Medical Service, the Morris County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), the Morris County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO), the Morris County Police Chiefs Association (MCPCA), the Morris County Alliance of Active Fire Chiefs, Morris County EMS Alliance, Morris County Mutual Aid Coordinators (MACs) and municipal volunteer and paid EMS agencies.
"Today, we are issuing RTF equipment to our municipalities as part of a Memorandum of Understanding between the County of Morris and our local police departments, which focuses on a local partnership between the police and first responders within that respective community," said Morris County Law and Public Safety Director Scott DiGiralomo.
"The goal of the Morris County RTF Program is to save lives when time matters most while protecting our first responders with specialized equipment."
The program aims to provide first responders across all emergency response disciplines with basic and advanced level training to ensure better preparation for worst-case public emergency scenarios, officials stated.
"The program has been designed to save lives during critical emergency situations such as an active shooter and/or active assailant incident that has the potential to bring with it multiple casualties," said MCPCA President Ross Johnson.
"This is accomplished by integrating police, fire, EMS, and OEM into one team where immediate life-saving aid can be provided to patients in critical environments as we coordinate getting those patients out to an ambulance as quickly as possible."
"The Morris County RTF initiative also works as part of a joint process with the Morris County Sheriff's Office Responsible School Violence Prevention, Preparation, Protection (RSVP-3) program, which was designed in response to the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida," said Sheriff James M. Gannon.
"When a critical event occurs that results in numerous casualties, we need to have a process that is 100% designed to save lives in a timeframe that will allow for that to occur."
According to officials, this integrated response and RTF model, working at the direction of and in cooperation with local police departments, seeks to achieve the best possible outcomes in a crisis situation.
"In order for this to be successful, we need to have all our emergency response disciplines integrated as a unit to make this happen. At the earliest opportunity, we need to get civilian emergency responders integrated into the incident at the direction of law enforcement," said Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll.
"We can't have our first responders sitting on the sidelines while victims are bleeding and/or in need of significant medical intervention, which requires the immediate removal from the crisis site and transported without delay to a definitive care hospital facility," said Morris County OEM and EMS Coordinator Jeffrey Paul.
"In many cases, for the incidents we are preparing and training for, our patients need a trauma bay, trauma team, and ultimately a surgeon in the operating room. We have a duty to act, but at the same time, we can't put our civilian responders in harm's way, and this equipment will address that gap."
The RTF program serves to allow our multi-discipline emergency response teams to stop the bleeding, quickly assess the injuries, and save lives during an active shooter/assailant or high-threat incident, officials said.
"If you're paying attention to the news, it's not a question of when, but rather, where this event might happen. As a county, we are committed to serving our citizens by being best prepared for all potential challenges we may face," said Morris County Commissioner Douglas Cabana, the Board of County Commissioner's liaison to Law and Public Safety.
Officials say the Morris County Rescue Task Force Program is grateful to the Board of County Commissioners, Prosecutor Carroll, Sheriff Gannon, MCPCA President Ross Johnson, and MCPCA 2024 President-Elect Chief Michael Koroski for their unwavering support to work in partnership to provide training and equipment to local municipalities across all emergency response disciplines.
"The County Commissioners look forward to continuing to expand this model heading into 2024 as more municipalities sign on to be a part of our countywide training initiative and equipment allocation," said Morris County Commissioner Stephen Shaw.
"In addition to issuing gear to our municipalities, we will also be placing the same equipment in all our Morris County ambulances, which, in essence, will have a roving Rescue Task Force daily throughout the county to support any municipality immediately for the day we hope never happens."