Law enforcement reflect on responding to mass casualty - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Law enforcement reflect on responding to mass casualty

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Local law enforcement react to responding to mass casualty (WFSB) Local law enforcement react to responding to mass casualty (WFSB)

Sadly in Connecticut, law enforcement experts have extensive experience responding to mass shootings. 

At times like this, even seasoned law enforcement agents say it's difficult to find anything that makes sense in such a seemingly senseless situation, but investigators try their best to learn something from even the worst tragedies.

Moments after the bullets started flying in Las Vegas, retired police Lieutenant Paul Vance had the same grim thought-- not again.

“You never forget and certainly the first responders in Las Vegas are never going to forget what they encountered. It's heartbreaking,” Vance said.

Vance served as the spokesman for the Connecticut State Police during the Sandy Hook tragedy.

To millions of people around the country, Vance became the face of the law enforcement response to the mass shooting. 

Vance is retired now but says emergency responders in Las Vegas have a long road ahead.

“They need to understand all the questions about why and how this occurred and it's going to take time and it's going to take interviewing people and it's going to take a lot of examination and it's going to take multiple agencies coming together,” Vance said.

Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said officers always must be ready for the worst and rely on extensive training long before a mass casualty situation occurs.

“How do you predict a 32nd floor window popping out and someone taking shots? You don’t. But, when you’re ready, you just need to be prepared to respond to it as best and as fast as you can,” Foley said. “When something like this happens, you better pray to whoever you pray to that that police department is prepared to respond to the situation. If you look at Las Vegas, and how they had to respond. Every second you hesitate, means somebody dies, you’re going to respond rapidly.”

Vance and Foley agree that the gunman in a mass shooting must be neutralized first but then more grueling work begins. 

Officers must investigate the crime, punish those responsible, and just as importantly be a shoulder for their community to cry on. 

“One of the most important things that I personally learned having been a trooper for 43 years is you have to take care of your own,” Vance said.

Vance added that also means making sure first responders get the support and counseling they need.

He currently works with police departments around the country on mass casualty training.

Foley says now even corporations in Hartford are asking to learn about how to deal with an active shooter.

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