Monday, 19 July 2021 13:43

Rescue Task Force


To establish a standardized response plan, maintaining a safe environment for responders to the fullest extent possible when operating in support of police operations at active shooter incidents in Burlington County.


It is the recommended guideline of agencies within Burlington County to respond to active shooter/hostile event incidents and provide point-of-incident medical attention and evacuation of victims of a present ballistic or explosive threat and to provide support to law enforcement as dictated by the incident.


A. Active Shooter / Hostile Event: One or more subjects who are armed, have used, or have threatened to use a weapon to inflict deadly physical force on other person(s) and will continue to do so while having unrestricted access to additional victims.

B. Contact Team: The Contact Team shall consist of one or more law enforcement officers whose primary function is to initiate immediate pursuit and confrontation with the active shooter(s)/threat. Their goal is to make immediate contact and attempt to eliminate the threat posed by the active shooter by means of arrest, containment, or use of deadly force. A Contact Team may consist of a lone officer if waiting for additional officers would result in further deaths.

C. Casualty Collection Point (CCP) / Treatment Area(s): A designated area(s) in the cold zone (preferably on the border of the warm zone) used for assembly, triage, treatment, medical stabilization and transport/evacuation of victims. Victims may arrive in this area on their own or be brought here by Rescue Teams.

D. Forward Casualty Collection Point (FCCP): Secured area to further triage and treat the viable patients to provide more definitive treatment and prepare for evacuation to a CCP or treatment area. The FCCP may be in a Warm Zone.

E. Cold Zone: Any area of operations for which the unified commanders do not reasonably anticipate a significant danger or threat to patients or responders. The primary triage/treatment areas will be designated within this zone, as well as staging and command.

F. Concealment: A law enforcement term that describes any barrier that prevents the suspect from seeing responders or other potential targets. This does not necessarily provide ballistic protection.

G. Cover: A law enforcement term that describes any barrier that provides ballistic protection to responders or other potential targets.

H. Critical Patient: Within the scope of this guideline, a critical patient is one who sustained a life-threatening injury, such as a penetrating trauma with severe bleeding or airway compromise, and cannot self-evacuate to a treatment area.

I. Dead Patient: Within the scope of this guideline, a dead patient is one who is found with no pulse or breathing effort as a result of trauma.

J. Expectant Patient: Within the scope of this document, an expectant patient is one who is found to have signs of life such as some respiratory effort or a pulse but also has injuries incompatible with life. When the number of critical patients exceeds the resources available to manage them, expectant patients are not treated until all other critical patients are treated.

K. Evacuee Assembly Site (EAS): A safe location for the accounting of evacuees away from roads and walkways used by emergency responders.

L. Hot Zone: Any area of operations that contains a direct or immediate threat to persons or responders. This zone will include any area that has not been deePed ³cOeaU´ Rf diUecW WhUeaWV b\ OaZ eQfRUcePeQW. ReVcXe TaVk FRUce personnel will not operate in this zone.

M. Incident Command Post (ICP): The field location at which the primary tacticallevel, on-scene incident command functions are performed and documented.

N. Rescue Task Force (RTF): Fire/EMS personnel appropriately trained and equipped with ballistic vests and helmets who complement officers, providing victim treatment and removal contemporaneously with an ongoing ballistic or explosive threat.

O. Rescue Team: One or more law enforcement officers whose primary function is to locate and remove victims from within a facility to a safe location and/or direct victims to a safe passage from the facility.

P. Staging Area: Unified Command may establish staging areas to position and track resources. A staging area can be any location in which personnel, supplies, and equipment await assignment.

Q. Tactical Medics: Personnel trained and deployed as part of the tactical response, primarily in support of tactical officers, and may operate in the warm zone for treatment and evacuation of injured responders and victims.

R. Warm Zone: Any area of operations where there is a potential hostile threat to persons or responders, but it is not direct and immediate. This is the main zone of operations for RTF personnel. A "Forward Casualty Collection Point" (FCCP) may be located within this area as RTF resources are mobilized for evacuation assignments.

General Procedures

A. Active shooter/hostile event incidents are dynamic, rapidly developing, chaotic and unpredictable. The highest priority for all Fire and EMS initial responders is to gather information on the actual situation.

B. The goal is to cease the actions of the active shooter before they cause additional casualties. The prioritization of actions is as follows:

1. Elimination of the active shooter/threat by law enforcement;

2. Rescue and removal of victims;

3. Providing medical assistance.

C. During tactical operations, unnecessary communication can compromise police and first responder safety and therefore should be minimized.

D. Responders should use identification that is readily identifiable from a distance.

E. Responding units should turn off warning equipment several blocks away from police actions. This guideline is not intended to restrict department personnel from protecting traffic hazards or other scene hazards with the use of warning lights as needed.

F. Responding units and staging officers should be cognizant of the need to maintain routes of ingress for additional responding units and routes of egress for ambulance routes and the redeployment of resources.

G. Responding units shall respond to a cold zone staging area identified by the Incident Commander. The first arriving unit is responsible for managing staging until the appointment/arrival of a designated Law Enforcement/Fire staging manager. Personnel/Resources will be identified and prepared for operation and await instruction

H. Ladders, fans, forcible entry equipment, etc. may be requested for use in police operations. Equipment will be sent to a safe staging area near the incident and law enforcement officers instructed in its use for deployment within dangerous areas.

I. Trained personnel shall assist police agencies in identifying, containing, controlling, and decontaminating hazardous materials when necessary, and determining that the scene has been rendered safe.

J. First responders will not assist in the hot zone(s) as identified by the incident commander. Only specially trained personnel, assigned to a RTF and equipped with the appropriate personal protective equipment shall operate within the warm zone(s) when dispatched to those locations through the command post.

K. At no time will fire suppression activities be initiated until direction is received through the Incident Commander. The decision to initiate fire suppression will ultimately be made by the officer in charge of fire department operations in consultation with Unified Command.

1. Should a threat still exist, and the initiation of fire suppression operations is absolutely necessary to protect the victims from the imminent danger of a fire, a crew of firefighters will be detailed to advance hose lines while in a formation as specified by the Unified Command with armed law enforcement personnel surrounding them.

L. Law enforcement contact teams will enter the area to contact and contain the active threat. Contact teams will identify the need for a RTF by communicating the locations and estimated numbers of casualties to the Command Post.

M. A Forward Casualty Collection Point may be established in the warm zone as needed. The establishment of a FCCP will be considered in circumstances where several viable patients are found in one area and cannot be readily evacuated with available resources, or a change in the incident dictates that it is no longer safe to exit the area with victims. It will ideally be accessible from building exit points, be large enough to accommodate treatment or staging of the number of anticipated victims, and be easily secured.

N. A Casualty Collection Point and/or treatment area shall be identified and established in the cold zone as needed.

O. Patients will be triaged and transported based on the severity of injury and likelihood that life saving measures will be successful.

P. Unified Command should have Central Communications alert area hospitals and request activation of their Multiple Casualty Incident Plan if needed.

Actions and Responsibilities of Command

A. A Unified Command will be established consistent with the Active Shooter Incident Management (ASIM) recommendations (Attachment A) with the law enforcement Commander functioning as lead. Fire/EMS Commanders will support operations within the Unified Command preferably in the cold zone. Police, Fire and EMS will maintain a presence in the Command Post to monitor PD and Fire/EMS channels to track all participants.

B. The Incident Commander will be responsible for the identification of threat zones and the deployment of RTF Teams.

C. The Unified Command will develop a communications plan.

D. The Incident Commander will designate the Incident Safety Officer. The Safety Officer is responsible to ensure safe operations.

RTF Equipment

A. All RTF members must be readily identifiable. Unique name identification on protective gear shall readily differentiate RTF members from law enforcement. Vest or attached name plate for members of the RTF shall have either "RESCUE TASK FORCE" or "RTF" on the front and back.

B. Each member of the RTF will be outfitted by their respective agencies with the following Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), in addition to the routine use of eye protection and gloves prior to deployment into any warm zone:

1. Minimum Level IIIA protection

2. Level IIIA Ballistic Tactical Helmet;

3. Patient care equipment deployed with each RTF member in such a manner that it is attached to the responder, allowing the hands to be free from carrying equipment. The equipment will be restricted to that designed for critical hemorrhage and airway control for multiple patients. The 5.11 UCR Sling Pack is recommended as it can be slung over the body of the user. The below minimum equipment is recommended to be carried by each RTF member in the sling bag:

a. CAT Tourniquets - 6

b. Israel Bandage 6" - 6

c. Ace Bandage 6" - 3

d. Chest Seals - 6

e. 5 x 9 - 4

f. Hemostatic Gauze (Quick Clot) - 6

g. Nasopharyngeal Airway - 6

h. NPA Lube - 6

i. Scissors - 1

j. Rescue Drag Sling - 1

k. Glow Sticks (blue) - 6

l. Radio Holder - 1

m. Pouch for Drag Sling - 1

C. If possible, an RTF re-supply point will be established near the point of entry.

RTF Deployment Procedures

A. Upon notification of a potential active shooter/hostile event incident, the following local jurisdiction agencies will be dispatched to include:

1. Local Jursidicition's EMS and Fire Agencies and Officers

2. 5 Basic Life Support Units (BLS) per local grid. (1st Alarm)

3. Local Fire initial structure dispatch local grid

4. 5 Rescue Task Force (RTF) prepared units as per local grid. (1st Alarm)

5. 3 Advanced Life Support Units (ALS)

6. Advanced Life Support (ALS) Supervisor

7. Burlington County Fire, EMS and OEM Coordinators.

8. CP15/FC15/ECRV

9. Burlington County Incident Support Team 0. Burlington County Fire Police Strike Team per local grid; and

11. Drone Strike Team


Additional RTF units as needed:

5 Rescue Task Force (RTF) prepared units as per local grid.

x 2nd alarm

x 3rd alarm

x 4th Alarm

x 5th Alarm


Additional BLS units as needed:

5 Basic Life Support Units (BLS) per local grids.

x 2nd Alarm

x 3rd Alarm

x 4th Alarm

x 5th Alarm


Additional FIRE units needed

FIRE units needed for fire suppression or manpower.

x 1st Alarm

x 2nd Alarm

x 3rd Alarm

x 4th Alarm

x 5th Alarm


Additional Fire Police units needed

Request Additional Fire Police Strike Teams as per local grids.

B. RTF members will don PPE and equipment and muster at the staging area identified by the Unified Command. The RTF teams will consist of law enforcement officers and at least one RTF responder.

1. RTF members will be assigned a radio channel for communication by the Unified Command.

2. RTF will be responsible for moving as rapidly as possible to the location of reported victims for the purpose of providing emergency care, and arranging for their safe removal and further treatment.

3. The role of law enforcement in the RTF is one of security and movement of the team. They will generally not assist in lifting, carrying or treatment of any patient.

4. RTF teams will not move into un-cleared areas nor get in front of contact teams.

5. Appropriate personnel will communicate with the Unified Command to coordinate movement within the warm zone, locations of the team and the injured, and threat and tactical information. RTF members will communicate with the Unified Command the locations of the team and injured and casualty information.

6. At no time will the law enforcement officers assigned to the RTF team leave the RTF team beyond their direct line of sight.

7. Ingress and egress corridors will be designated and limited to those entrances and corridors cleared by the initial contact teams.

C. Emergency Evacuation Procedure

1. If the zone in which the RTF team is operating changes from "warm" to "hot" due to a direct and immediate threat, immediate evacuation of the RTF team to appropriate cover will occur. This may include partial or complete evacuation of the team from the building.

Casualty Collection Point(s)

A. If determined to be necessary, RTF teams may establish a FCCP in an area of the warm zone approved by the Unified Command. One (1) or two (2) RTF teams will be designated to operate this post.

B. The CCP/Treatment area is the destination to which RTF teams will evacuate non-ambulatory casualties.

C. The Medical Branch Director will manage the external CCP area in the cold zone. Patient care will be provided by non-RTF personnel, ALS Medics, and mutual aid assets. Transport assets will be staged at this location or off-site, as the situation warrants and coordinated by the transportation supervisor.

RTF Contacts

A. RTF team(s) should be prepared to encounter non-involved individuals, witnesses, suspects, and explosive devices. All information gathered by the RTF, especially suspect descriptions, locations, and type of weapons, must be relayed to the command post.

1. Contacts should be handled as follows:

a. Witnesses and non-involved individuals:

1) Quickly determine if they have any information regarding suspects ortheir location;

2) Direct them to a safe exit and the evacuee assembly site;

3) Notify the command post that they will be exiting the building, where they will be exiting, and provide aphysical description.

b. Victims:

1) Quickly determine if they have any information regarding suspects ortheir location;

2) If injury is life threatening, render lifesaving aid and/or extricate the victim.

c. Explosive Devices:

1) Law enforcement team members will quickly inspect the device for timing devices, switches, fuses, trip wires, or other means of detonation.

2) RTF teams should not touch the device.

3) RTF teams should limit use of radio devices.

4) Law enforcement will clearly mark the area by the device and notify the Unified Command of the device location and a detailed description as soon as safe to do so.

d. Suspects:

1) If the RTF team encounters the suspect(s), their mission changes and the law enforcement officers will act as a contact team. Non-law enforcement members of the RTF will retreat to a position of cover that maximizes life safety.

Non-Uniformed Personnel

A. Non-uniformed personnel shall wear outer garments clearly identifying them.

B. Non-uniformed personnel will respond to the staging area and be assigned as necessary.

Release of Information

A. The anticipated arrival of media at a critical incident mandates the assignment of a designated Public Information Officer. The Public Information Officer of the Burlington County Prosecutor will be the primary liaison with the media through the Joint Information Center.

B. Access to the scene will be restricted to emergency personnel. Any media arriving at the incident will be directed to a media staging area determined by the Unified Command.

C. No information will be released to any media without the authorization of the County Prosecutor.

D. The Burlington County Prosecutor will be responsible for coordinating and releasing information, including but not limited to interviews with media, issuance of press releases, and scheduling and conducting press conferences.

Demobilization / Debriefing

A. Demobilization will include member information regarding post-incident briefings, stress management briefings, and family support information.

B. A Critical Incident Debriefing shall be offered to all responders with qualified mental health professional(s) or critical incident stress counselors.

C. Additional counseling will be offered based upon recommendations of the mental health professional(s), counselor(s), and a RTF member's request of at the direction of the agency's Chief Officer.


At a minimum, all Fire/EMS personnel shall complete the Active Shooter Hostile Event (ASHE) course, or its equivalent, prior to participating in RTF operations. Additional training and/or certifications is at the discretion of the local jurisdiction agency head.

Joint practical drills including emergency services, school districts, and business entities should be conducted amongst the agencies operating within the County.

Guideline Review

This guideline shall be reviewed as needed by the Burlington County Public Safety Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response for Fire and EMS Committee.