Best plan of action when preparing for the worst.

March 25, 2022

Tim Beggs, a member of the Oceana County Sheriff’s Reserve, leads the way to rescue victims during Rescue Task Force training.

Best plan of action when preparing for the worst.

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By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

ROTHBURY — Local police officers, firefighters and EMS workers participated in a Rescue Task Force training session Thursday evening, March 24, at the Rothbury Community Church.

“Rescue Task Force is an operation that occurs after a threat has been either eliminated or is no longer a threat,” said Oceana County Undersheriff Ryan Schiller. “When we think about active shooter events and all these terrible tragedies that occur, there are those initial 911 calls and initial moments when law enforcement has to go and respond and do what law enforcement does. 

“As soon as it’s determined there are no more gunshots, there is no more immediate threat perceived, we’ve learned over the course of all these tragedies in history that the faster we can then start treating and taking care of the people who have been wounded, the more lives are saved,” said Undersheriff Schiller.

“Way back prior to Columbine days, they would respond to a scene; set up a perimeter; and wait. And then Columbine happened, and we learned, ‘OK we have to go in and we have to do something.’ They weren’t being evacuated and they weren’t being treated for basic life support.”

Rescue Task Force is a nationwide initiative to provide medical care as quickly as possible at the scene of a tragedy such as a school or church shooting. Training participants play the roles of rescue personnel, and volunteers play the roles of injured victims. Prop guns are used by law enforcement. 

“It requires police, fire and EMS to all play in the same sandbox together. We all respond to a lot of calls together. Oftentimes you will see a red fire truck, a police car and an ambulance all at the same scene at the same time. But we’re all doing our own jobs — operating in our own silos. Rescue Task Force changes that game significantly and requires all of us to jump in the same grain bin together and do the same job.”

Schiller, who is also a firefighter, said he is encouraged by the participation in the training exercise. “Everybody is willing to learn this and be a part of it and to prepare.

“We live in rural America, and we don’t have all the resources and people that the larger metropolitan areas have. If we’re going to save lives and we’re going to protect our own, we have to be ready and we have to work together to do it.”

Participating agencies include Grant Township Fire Department, which hosted the training session, Hart Area Fire Department, Shelby-Benona Fire Department, Grant Township Rescue, Oceana County Sheriff’s Office, Oceana County Emergency Management and Life EMS. Rothbury Community Church’s security team also joined in the training exercise. 

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