New active shooter training for Burlington police involves firefighters, EMS personnel

BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Burlington police are adding some new people to their active shooter training -- firefighters and EMS personnel.

"They don't have guns,” said Lt. Brian Becmer, with the Burlington Police Department. “They don't have vests. They have no weapons."

Instead, Becmer says, during training exercises they'll be protected by a rescue squad of officers, surrounding them as they look for victims.

"Provide quick first aid there and then get them out of there," Becmer said.

The goal is to train fire and EMS to work quickly during active shooter situations while police look for suspects.

It's the first time firefighters are being trained to go inside dangerous, violent scenarios with officers.

"It's new to us,” Battalion Chief Travis Handy said. “It's something completely different."

Normally, police say they're kept away from violent scenes until the scene has been cleared.

"It increases the odds of us saving lives," Becmer said.

The training has been in the planning stages for the past two years, but police say a recent scare at Holly Hill Mall helped push them to get it done now.

In March, dozens of police surrounded the mall after a false report of an active shooter.

"We searched that whole entire mall as if there was a shooter there,” Becmer said.

Although it was a false alarm, police say it was a good wake up call.

"It just reinforced what we already knew,” Becmer said. “We need more training, better training, to be prepared for those events."

Events firefighters say can happen in any city, at any time.

"We don't want to be unprepared," Handy said.

The official active shooter training between all three agencies will take place on June 23 and July 7.