If you’ve lived in Polk County for any length of time, you know that when it comes to keeping people safe, our city and county departments are committed to working together across jurisdictional and bureaucratic boundaries.

Our Emergency Communications Center (ECC) answers 9-1-1 calls and dispatches for nearly every city police department in the county, as well as Polk County Fire Rescue (PCFR).

Our deputies have automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in their patrol cars and we have used them to save lives.

Recently, we had the opportunity to work with PCFR to outfit their paramedics and firefighters with “active shooter safety equipment,” including protective tactical vests and ballistic helmets, as well as specialty medical “go-bags” to use during an incident of mass violence or when responding to an active shooter.

We also began training every one of their members how to react and respond to active shooter scenes.

The goal is to help PCFR safely and swiftly triage, treat and transport potential victims as quickly as possible.

Four years ago, our agency SWAT members responded to a scene on Executive Road in Winter Haven where an armed suspect was barricaded inside a warehouse, shooting at responding units from his position.

PCFR has, for many years, had tactically-trained paramedics assigned to our SWAT, equipped with similar protective gear. During that scenario, paramedic John Mikula was shot in the shoulder.

Fortunately, he wasn’t more seriously injured and was treated on-scene and quickly transported.

During the aftermath of that incident and upon seeing the increase of active shooters nationwide, we collaborated with PCFR on how to better equip and train their members to respond to mass casualty incidents.

This new equipment and training is not only a win-win for both our agencies, it’s a win for the citizens we serve.

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