Ep 27: Emotionally Responsible Room Entry

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Episode 27: Emotionally Responsible Room Entry

Room entry tactics are a delicate topic in law enforcement, but this discussion is about considering the impact of a full dynamic entry on children. You don't want to miss this!

Bill Godfrey:

Thank you for joining us on our next podcast. Today we are going to pick up on a topic that we briefly discussed a few weeks ago in the staging podcast. It was an odd place for it to come up, and we want to revisit that a little bit. My name is Bill Godfrey, I'm the host of the podcast, one of the instructors here at C3 Pathways. I've got three of the other instructors with me today, Harry Jimenez?

Harry Jimenez:

Hello Bill. Thank you for having me.

Bill Godfrey:

Thanks for being here Harry. We have Robert McMahan.

Robert McMahan:

Hi Bill.

Bill Godfrey:

Hey. And Kevin Burd.

Kevin Burd:

Hi Bill.

Bill Godfrey:

All right. So we've got today, aside from myself, a law enforcement group, because this by and large is a law enforcement topic for the most part. And the issue is this, you have an active shooter event at a school or some other venue where kids are involved. It could be teenage kids, but we're really focusing on those younger kids, middle school and elementary in this topic. The threat has been dealt with, it is either neutralized or no longer on the scene, the patients have been transported and we're at a stable state. We still need to clear the campus. We need to come up with a way to move the kids in an orderly fashion from the rooms or the locations where they're at, to transportation ultimately to be moved to an offsite reunification center.

Bill Godfrey:

The problem is that we don't always shift gears when we need to, and we start kicking in doors and doing very, very aggressive room entries that ended up scaring the kids even more than they've already been traumatized. And in a couple cases, this is really caused some issues for kids, that quite frankly weren't exposed to the threat, didn't see it, didn't witness it, didn't hear it, had the bejesus scared out of them from a very, very aggressive dynamic room entry coming in hot and heavy. So today we're going to talk about the impact of that, and maybe are there ways to avoid that, are there some ways to do that a little bit better. Now, to set the stage, because Robert I want you to tell your personal story, but to set the stage here for all of those that are listening.

Bill Godfrey:

My understanding is talking about how to do room entries with law enforcement, is about trying to get firefighters to agree on which nozzle is the best. There is no right or wrong answer, everybody's got an opinion and nobody's right except the opinion that I'm advocating for has got to be the right one. It's like a lose, lose zero sum game. So I don't want to get hung up necessarily in that, but I'd like the three of you, as we go through this conversation, to talk about what are the kinds of things that you could do? What should we be aware of? And Robert, if you would set the stage for us, because you personally experienced this on an incident, where you were the IC and responsible for it. Set the stage a little bit about what happened, to the degree you feel comfortable talking about it. Again, we don't need to name the incident specifically.

Bill Godfrey:

And what the implications and the outcome were, and looking back on it, what you would have liked those officers to do instead.

Robert McMahan:

Sure Bill. A couple of years ago I was involved in a school shooting, and once we got the incident stabilized and we knew we had people in custody, there was still a good degree of campus left to be cleared, and to get those students out in an orderly fashion, like you said. And I think that's key, the word orderly fashion. And we had officers that were continuing to clear in a hard dynamic mode. And many of our campuses are taught to lock down and stay locked down in place, so there wasn't good communication prior to the incident about how we would approach those classrooms and get them to come out. So they were not coming out. And incidentally the officers ended up doing some very hard breaches and causing a lot of damage to those doors, and doing a dynamic entry and pointing weapons at kids and yelling all those law enforcement commands that we give when we give those kinds of entries.

Robert McMahan:

Some of the feedback we got after the incident was that our students were scared of us, they were traumatized. And I think we lost some credibility with the community when that occurred. And we need to remember that we don't want to victimize any more kids or create any more victims or have this kind of effect on the students and teachers, because we in the end want them to know that we came there to rescue them, to take care of them and not create this kind of trauma.

Bill Godfrey:

Robert, what were the age ranges? I mean, were we talking elementary school, middle school? Do you recall the age ranges?

Robert McMahan:

This was, I think, six through 12. So it was-

Bill Godfrey:

Pretty young.

Robert McMahan:

Some of the younger kids there, definitely all the way through high school students, and even the high school students didn't take a while. They really were pretty shocked by what occurred, as we were.

Bill Godfrey:

So Kevin, I know this is a passionate topic for you as well. And while you're retired now, you were a SWAT team leader right up until when you retired and went down. Have you dealt with this before? Has your team addressed that? Have you seen this come up in training with tactics in law enforcement discussions?

Kevin Burd:

Yeah, absolutely. And I learned early in my SWAT career that tactics are intel driven and our environment dictates our tactics. So dynamic entries, really even a SWAT perspective have faded away. We still train in them, but our tactics are intel driven. So if you approach a door and there's no stimulus that you have to do a dynamic entry, why are we doing a dynamic entry? Because we're talking about most schools with fire rated doors, steel frames, industrial door locks and jams. If nothing is giving me a stimulus or actionable intelligence that something bad is going in there. And then look at the other side too, what are we training our kids to do with lockdown drills?

Kevin Burd:

In that same perspective, having the opportunity to attend... I don't think I'm being unrealistic, I've probably been a part of well over a thousand lockdown drills, because the state I came from, they were mandated to do 10 security drills a school year, four of which being lock downs. So I got to observe all those. And we're trying to build those relationships and give teachers insight of what it might look like post-incident.

Kevin Burd:

So we come up with ways, we build that relationship with that law enforcement officer, "Hey, this is the police, were coming in, nothing to be alarmed." I'm not trying to take a tactic away from law enforcement. If something is still active, yes, we have to do what we have to do. But what's the statistics tell us, typically it's a single shooter, right? 99.9% of the time. If nothing is happening, why do we need to create a crisis during the crisis, and potentially traumatize the children that are in that room. And when I talk about that intel, if I'm responding to a school and I know it's an elementary school and there are five to 10 year olds, 11 year olds or 12 year olds, do I need to enter that room and take control the way we train a lot of those tactics while the incident is still hot, if you will, right?

Harry Jimenez:

No, absolutely. And you have to understand that dynamic entry is never pretty. As we train as law enforcement we're used to the big bang, and as a breacher, it doesn't matter how you cut, it's going to be noisy. I'm ready for it. But when you're training, you're sitting on the other side of that door, and you feel that strength and that noise, that dynamic entry. It doesn't matter which part of the country you are in, you're going to traumatize, especially small children. And Kevin, you mentioned the statistics. We know the 98% of the time, it's a single shooter. And if the shooter has been neutralized and there's no driving force, exactly what you said, why there's a need for a dynamic entry? Even as we train as law enforcement officers, we tend to have an adrenaline dump in our system.

Harry Jimenez:

And when that happens, as law enforcement, because we're human beings and we have seen over and over how we are attack because of feelings. Well, as a human being, responding to a school environment where you expect children, you get some physiological and some psychological response. And your physiological response is the tunnel vision, losing your hearing. And then you have that mindset of what's it going to be, is that tiger behind the door? That tiger's going to attack me. We need to reevaluate those entries. We need to reevaluate. And many of the new SWAT operators are going to the training. But there's many of us out there that learn the old way, and we have not evolved into the new mindset of understanding what is an emotional, responsible entry.

Robert McMahan:

Yeah, I like to think of it in the term of discretion. Officers are given a lot of discretion and we need to be discretionary in how we're entering these rooms, and certainly taking control of the room, but we don't have to do it in such a hard fashion, that we're creating this catastrophic event for students that didn't need to be. And certainly be ready for that other line that might jump out, but be discretionary about how you do it.

Bill Godfrey:

Let me ask this question for the three of you, because I introduced Kevin as having some SWAT background and experience. Is it different from someone who's had SWAT training versus your typical patrol officer or deputy in what they know or what they learned or their performance level in being able to execute different room entries? Can you guys talk a little bit about that? Is there a difference there, and how does that play out?

Robert McMahan:

Well Bill, I think it depends on the training obviously. And across the country we're seeing officers get very high-end training to do room clearing. And I think that's been the standard raised by these active shooter events. Not realizing that we have street officers, patrol officers, responding to the scene, they're the ones going to be making the first entry. So we're giving them those kinds of training and equipment to make... They're coming in with the hard tactical vest and rifles. So they are getting that training and they have the ability to make that type of entry as well as the SWAT guys.

Kevin Burd:

Yeah, and I agree. We have to have the tools for the toolbox, right? But again, where are we in the incident, and what's the intel telling you, what environment are you working in, and what tool are you going to use for that moment, right?

Robert McMahan:

Absolutely.

Kevin Burd:

And I agree 110%, you got to be discretionary. Law enforcement, your discretion is a major part of your profession, right? So we have to give them the tactics for the first two minutes, five minutes, seven minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, right? When we have a driving force, when we have a stimulus and we have to use those trainings. I am a big supporter of, I feel that SWAT teams should be assisting in the training for patrol, right? Because that's where the tactics come from. But we just can't be narrow minded, if you will, and only train in those hard dynamic entries of when the potential of bullets are going to start flying are right there, right?

Kevin Burd:

We have to also look at, this is going to be a prolonged event. And again, looking at the statistics and the data, these events might be over in 10 or 15 minutes. So if there's no driving force, there's no stimulus for 45 minutes or an hour, why are we-

Harry Jimenez:

Why are we breaching the door?

Kevin Burd:

And going in. Now, again, I'm not trying to take away anything safety wise. You can still use those tactics, you can still use... and law enforcement will know what we're talking about, the angles. We can do a... whatever you want to refer to it as, cutting the pie, slicing the pie, threshold evaluation, combat clear, whatever you want to call it. We can still get into that room effectively with some cover possibly, depending on the environment, and not screaming and yelling and pointing rifles at five and six year olds.

Bill Godfrey:

Kevin, you reminded me of something that one of our other law enforcement instructors brought up when we talked about this a couple of weeks ago. They mentioned doing, if I remember correctly, they called it a threshold evaluation from the hallway through the door, pieing it off or something. Is that what you're-

Kevin Burd:

Yes.

Bill Godfrey:

Can you guys talk a little bit about what you mean by that? I certainly know that the fire EMS folks that are listening are not going to know what we're talking about there, because it's a little bit fuzzy to me. But I don't want to take it for granted that all our law enforcement folks that are listening are necessarily going to know what we're talking about. Can we address that?

Kevin Burd:

Yeah, sure. So when we talk about a threshold evaluation, it's actually an interesting conversation because having the opportunity to work with a lot of schools, there's different trains of thought on what actions they're going to take within the classroom. As an example, on the classroom door entering into the room, some schools prefer to have some type of covering there during an incident, some leave it open. Like you said before, there's different... We can debate tactics, right? Tactics are like ice cream, everybody's got their favorite flavor, okay?

Harry Jimenez:

It's true.

Kevin Burd:

As an example, if there is no window covering, we can do a threshold evaluation, if you will. The door can still be closed, we can see into the room. I don't like throwing percentages. You hear a lot of times, "Oh, I can see 30% of the room, 70% of the room." We can get an idea of what the room looks like by clearing that window, by basically doing a slicing the pie motion, if you will, through the door, looking through the window and see what we're entering into. Same thing when we opened the door, right? I'm sure by now most schools across the country have something in place where if an incident occurs, a lockdown occurs, there is a master set of keys or fobs or something along those lines. At this point, hopefully you're having that conversation, law enforcement can open that door. And same thing, you're just gradually moving across that door to see what you're entering into.

Bill Godfrey:

You're talking about from the hallway?

Kevin Burd:

From the hallway, right? And again, what we did locally in our training was, "This is the police, were coming in." And we can do that kind of... I don't want to paint the wrong picture, not a slow and methodical, but kind of a slow and methodical entry into the room so they can clearly see a uniformed police officer. Because again, with our school resource officers and the folks we're putting in those schools, we want to build those relationships and trust that at the end of a lockdown, you see a uniformed officer come in or someone that looks like a law enforcement officer and the impression that I think it gives, especially the younger kids is, everything's going to be okay now.

Bill Godfrey:

Robert, was that a challenge for you on your incident? Did you have some non uniformed officers that were doing those entries?

Robert McMahan:

No. At that point they were... Well, yes. There were some non uniformed officers, there were some training uniforms, but the gross of those officers were in uniform at that point. And that's another sidebar. If you're going to go to these incidents, put something on that identifies you as an officer because that can create a whole other problem for students and other responding law enforcement as well. But I think what Kevin was hitting on is, as you start to enter that room and look at that room, just some simple communication might be the thing that gets you to realize what's going on in that room. If the teacher and students can respond to you before you even entered that room that they're okay, then they're probably okay and you don't need to do a hard dynamic entry. If they're all laying on the floor looking in the corner, then you might have a problem.

Bill Godfrey:

That's what the FBI calls a clue?

Robert McMahan:

Yes, exactly. So there's a lot of things that can be done to calm this thing down and to keep it calm and maintain that order and restore order, rather than more chaos.

Harry Jimenez:

Now, as a former operator, I need to defend my breachers and my dynamic entry special response team guys.

Bill Godfrey:

That's all right. I'm going to talk about which nozzle I prefer. Go ahead Harry.

Harry Jimenez:

It goes beyond that group of officers either conducting that door threshold evaluation, looking from the hallway, bridging the door. Perhaps many times what we have missed is actually some kind of control and order, but not from the actual officers responding, but somebody in command. And this is the part that the active shooter incident management is so important, because now you don't have... We started the conversation saying the scene is safe, there's no driving force, all the survivors have been transported to hospitals. Now, we have a crime scene. We're going to what we call the third phase, right? We have the threat, rescue, and now we're going to the clearing. If we're clearing, if your command structure have received some kind of active shooter incident management, they will understand the concept.

Harry Jimenez:

There's no driving force, there's no need to be breaching. Because it's not only going and creating some emotional and mental scars for those children, which is going to happen if you have somebody pointing with a gun. I work on the cover many years, and I remember every single time that I have a gun pointed to my face, and it leaves a mark. And if you're at a tender age it's going to leave more of a scar mentally and emotionally. But how many times we have watched on TV the video, when we have officers in the parking lot emptying a classroom, emptying a school, and all the children are running, no order, running with their hands in the air scared, and it's a mess.

Harry Jimenez:

And it makes you wonder, why are you doing this? Everybody's transported, there's no threat, why are you doing this? Why are you creating these images that we can watch over and over and over? And it just makes you wonder, if not the officer responding to the scene but actually that chain of command, they may need to consider some active shooter incident management training.

Bill Godfrey:

Harry raised something that made me think about it, he mentioned crime scene. So we've been focused on talking about the room entry, which is what we wanted to do. The idea of this emotionally responsible room entry. But I think this sense of emotional responsibility goes a little bit deeper. For example, we're going to empty this school out room by room. We need to move these kids either to an assembly area in preparation to moving them to an offsite, or what I actually prefer is to move them straight to the bus, get them on the bus and get them off the site if you can coordinate that.

Bill Godfrey:

But let's talk a little bit about the other piece, and that's the route of travel that you're going to take them, because number one, it is a crime scene, and do we want to take them past or through the areas where there's blood on the ground, there might be fatalities. How often does that get thought of before we start emptying rooms? Are we being deliberate about saying, "Okay, we're going to take these rooms and go this direction, but on these rooms we're going this way, because we want to avoid..." Robert, what's your thoughts on that? Is that something that's come up in your discussions in training? Or what do you see is-

Robert McMahan:

Absolutely, you're hitting right on it? And you can take students that maybe didn't even hear the shooting, weren't a part of it and traumatize them just by walking them through or by that crime scene. So you can choose your routes and do this in an orderly fashion. Like you said, take them right out and put them on the bus. And even before you leave the classroom, in a previous podcast we talked about staging and accountability. If you can have those students, they're still in their classroom with their teacher because they locked down. You're clearing, you find them, you talk to them, you can get a roster of the students right there. You know who they all are, they've got their teacher and you can take them as a group in an orderly, calm, fashion, down a different route that doesn't go through the crime scene, and put them on a bus and not create any more trauma for them.

Robert McMahan:

And I think it's more than just a thing that we should be thinking about it, I think it's a responsibility to those children and to those families to handle it that way in order to help them. I mean, otherwise we're not helping them. I mean, yeah, we're getting them off the scene, but we're not doing all we can to help them through this event. Because even kids that haven't been directly involved in it are going to be traumatized because it happened on their campus, it happened at their school and that's going to bother them. We don't need to add to it.

Bill Godfrey:

I think that that's so very true. Harry, I'm reminded of the dinner we shared with our dear friend Lindsay Webster, who was a survivor of an active shooter event. And we were talking about various topics related to that. And that was when it really... Something that she said really brought home this sense of seeing a person that's been subjected to this, seeing themselves as either a victim or a survivor. And Lindsay talked quite eloquently about that. I remember that ride home with Harry. We were riding back to the hotel, and we must have spent 30 minutes in the car talking just about that, because she said her emotional healing, separate from the physical, but the emotional healing for her didn't really come into play until she got to the point where she quit seeing herself as a helpless victim in this thing, and instead started seeing the incident, "Okay, this is something that happened to me, but it doesn't define me. I'm a survivor." And moving past that.

Bill Godfrey:

And it really resonated. And I think there's a little bit of this in that, isn't there?

Kevin Burd:

Yeah, absolutely. And we have a great relationship with the I Love U Guys Foundation. And one of the things they talk about with recovery is recovery starts when the crisis begins, right? And I actually like to think, to go back to what Robert and Bill you brought up, is really recovery starts before the crisis begins because we have to plan for the incident and plan for that recovery before it ever happens. Does that make sense? And with having that crime scene in mind and not introducing trauma to someone that may not have been there, they're going to be traumatized one way or another, right? Because it happened on their campus, right? And I relate it to fire drills. We run fire drills at all of our schools and we've been doing it for years, right? And I knew growing up, if I was in the second grade, I would come out, I would make a right, I'd make my first left, go out that door, and there you go. But you have to have plan B in place also. So that is just not the only way it can happen.

Kevin Burd:

So if we have that scene, to the best we can, we can not put those students through the areas where something happened. Maybe there's no way around it. There might be that situation, but we have to think about that ahead of time and also make that part of training, right? You run the fire drill. Obviously we're not going to set a fire, but let's put a barricade at the end of the hallway during one of the drills and say, "You can't go this way." It's like the deer in the headlights, right?

Harry Jimenez:

Now what?

Kevin Burd:

This is the way we always go.

Harry Jimenez:

Now what? What do I do?

Kevin Burd:

Yeah. And we have to introduce that into the training for when... Yeah.

Bill Godfrey:

So we're talking about, loosely this idea of emotional responsibility as responders dealing with these events. How do you ensure that your incident changes gears? Because that seems to me to be, you could remind people, you can tell them about it in training, you can go through those emotions, but it seems short of somebody saying, "Okay, all stop. Timeout. Here's what we're going to do, here's where we're going to go. Everybody slow down, calibrate yourself, calm down." I don't know. I don't know how to say that, Robert, but you've been in that position.

Bill Godfrey:

I mean, because you've responded to three active shooter events in your career. All three very, very different experiences. What do you think, if you needed to go be the incident commander of one, how would you be able to effectively shift that tone and shift gears of the whole incident when you've got your troops and the city next door and the county next door and mutual aid from alphabet soup agencies you didn't even know existed? Have you thought about that? How do you do that?

Robert McMahan:

There has to be a point where that gets announced, "Okay, we're moving into this phase." But you cannot do that effectively if you don't train it first. And everybody's got to follow the training. We talk about it throughout the ACM class, stay in your lane, but you got to do these things. We talked about it even with the staging thing, about over convergence of resources. It's great to train to go to staging, but if people don't do it you're going to have over convergence of resources. And it's great to train on a response that's emotionally appropriate for the circumstances. But if you don't follow the training, it's not going to happen. So it falls on every officer from the youngest, newest officer on scene to the incident commander. Everybody's got to make sure that training occurs, and make sure that they understand the transition that has to take place when it's announced that, "Hey, we're moving into this phase of our operation."

Harry Jimenez:

Absolutely, Robert. And it takes somebody to pump the brakes. You have to pump the brakes. You have to understand that the adrenaline rush going through the door, threat is down, all the survivors have been transported. Somebody has to call it and say, "Okay, now we have the rest of the people to take care of, all the rest of the students, the rest of the teachers, but also the rest of the responders." In my experience, everybody's running on adrenaline and fumes. And at some point somebody had to realize, "Okay, let me call all the responders and make sure that they're also doing okay." Because that is a responsible thing to do.

Harry Jimenez:

I said it once, I'll say it again, somebody in that chain of command needs to be familiar and have been through an active shooter incident management, because you cannot practice what you have never even seen. And unfortunately there's a lot of jurisdictions out there that they send their officers to training, but the command staff is enabled to understand what happens after the last viable patient is transported. How do we transition to that next phase? And until that command staff understands it, sometimes the brass is going to push back, and those are the incidents that we see the children running with the hands in the air, through the parking lot screaming because nobody's in control.

Kevin Burd:

Agreed. Get on the air, somebody, pulse check, right? If you're pumping 175, 200 beats a minute, and we're 20, 30 minutes into this and there's no stimulus, there's no driving force, it's time to take it back. The stress response we talk about, right? And start thinking clearly. Get out of that tunnel vision, get out of that auditory exclusion. But it's also important to incorporate that stress into training, right? Because training without stress is like drinking decaf coffee, it tastes good, but what do you get out of it at the end of the day, right? But at some point during that incident it's done and over with, we need to pump the brakes and start thinking rationally and making clear, concise decisions.

Bill Godfrey:

Is this potentially an opportunity to rotate some crews out when we change phases? If you get a staging area stood up, which is one of the subjects we talked about just a few weeks ago on the podcast. And it's critical to success of one of these things. You're not really going to be short of resources, because everybody and their brother is going to come, whether they were invited or not, they're going to come. So you've arguably got enough law enforcement that should be in staging to be able to organize three, four or five more contact teams, and to brief them on exactly what you want. Is that something that perhaps we should consider as a... I don't want to use the phrase best practice, but as a better practice to say, "When we're making that shift, let's take those initial officers and rotate them out, let them take a break, and put the fresh officers in, who can go in with clear instructions of what's intended and what the plan is, and begin moving the kids." What are your thoughts?

Robert McMahan:

I think that's a great idea. I think the role of tactical is probably the best place to start to pump the brakes and to get control of those contact teams. And even if you can't switch them out right away, at least contact each contact team individually and say, "Okay, we're moving into this phase. You understand that? Slow down." But absolutely, if I were tactical I'd be looking at getting those contact teams that were in the heat of battle, so to speak, or dealing with a lot of casualties, rotated out for some other teams that haven't been on that adrenaline high, that can come in with a fresher perspective, if you will, and a little slower cadence to respond to these rooms.

Bill Godfrey:

Sure. So Harry, I want to go back to something you said just a couple of minutes ago. You made the comment, "Don't forget to check on your other responders. We need to take care of folks." And most of our listeners don't know, like Robert, have also responded to active shooter events. I'm guessing the one that sticks out and was the toughest was the Sutherland Springs shooting. And I remember that night when you called me on your way home. Now, just to remind everybody it was daylight when that thing occurred.

Harry Jimenez:

11:35 AM.

Bill Godfrey:

And it was late at night when you called me because I-

Harry Jimenez:

Past midnight.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah. I got up, got out of bed and I knew the first thing I asked Harry, first thing I said to you was, "Are you okay? How are you doing?" And of course the answer was, "I'm fine." And I knew he wasn't, and I got up and got out of bed, went in the other room and we were on the phone probably an hour. And I don't know that I ever shared with you, but I was worried about you for quite a while. So I think it is important to talk about that. Is there anything that sticks in your mind that would be a good suggestion for leadership or responders to be able to reach out and help each other just informally?

Harry Jimenez:

Just like Robert mentioned, there comes a time, probably when you're running tactical or the first level supervisor realizing, "Hey, everybody got transported. We don't have a driving force." Look at the board and realize how many people have been transported. And unfortunately we have to assess how many people are still on the scene. And at that point when you start counting and you realize we need to activate EOC because we need a refrigerated truck because we have too many bodies, that is a good point to start looking at swapping people. Get those first responders, fire EMS, and law enforcement, those that where they're putting hands on patients, pull them back, make sure that they're okay.

Harry Jimenez:

As law enforcement, as all first responders, we tend to work in adrenaline and nobody wants to accept that sometimes a crime scene is too much, especially depending on the crime scene, and the worst thing in the world is to see a child. So that's the moment that we need to be thinking about swapping people and getting a fresh crew there, control the scene, get the perimeter under control, get a new command staff, if you may, for that next phase of the recovery to process the scene, to start dealing with the family members of the survivors, the family members of those that did not survive.

Harry Jimenez:

And in my experience, you're going to see everybody and their sister with a camera just land on your scene. And it takes a toll dealing with county officials, city officials, family members, trying to set up some reunification locations and family supports services. And realize that all of a sudden you're trying to deal with your emotions, and at the same time you're trying to do your job. It can get really heavy. It can be a lot.

Bill Godfrey:

Robert, how about you?

Robert McMahan:

I think there's two other things we've got to watch for in that concept. And one is our cops don't want to go home. They don't want to quit the incident, so to speak. They want to work it all the way through. And if you're one of those first guys in, or you're in the thick of things, you probably shouldn't be staying there longer than necessary. And we do need to rotate you out, because you're not fine. You may think you're fine, but you're not. And the second piece of that is, we often have our star player, so to speak. We have our star detective that we want to be leading this investigation. And I have seen in some of these shootings where that star detector was actually one of the first guys in the door.

Robert McMahan:

So he's already been exposed to that trauma, and then we want to run him through the investigation and they don't get a break from that. And that can affect a lot of things in the response and in their investigation letter. So we need to be thinking about rotating all the people, and we may have to give up a star player later on in that recovery phase, because they were an initial responder to begin with. We got to take care of those guys too. They can become victims of this as well, and we got to watch for that.

Bill Godfrey:

And there's star players from other agencies. I agree with you. And I don't think it's just unique to police, I think fire and EMS are the exact same way about not wanting to go until it's done. In fact, to me, on the fire EMS side, that's one of the warning signs. When they don't want to be relieved and don't want to go back to quarters or returned to service, to me that's a red flag waving in the face. I had a peer who was a responder on one of the more horrific events. I don't want to say which one. But a lot of us missed the signs and he killed himself.

Harry Jimenez:

And this is a good point to whoever's listening out there.

Robert McMahan:

Bill, we talked about this a while back, and it's important to remember that we're there to stop the killing, stop the dying, but you also got to take care of your first responders after the incident. Because if you let them be victimized by this, and they will, they're going to be hurt, they're going to be injured in an emotional, mental health way. But you can't let that injury go unchecked, you can't let that bleed. You got to get them help. And they may say they're fine, make them get help anyway. Because if we stop the bleeding and stop the dying for the civilians and don't take care of the first responders, we've done our first responders an injustice. And you will lose first responders if you don't take care of them.

Bill Godfrey:

So we started off talking about a very narrow topic, and that was the idea of emotionally responsible room entries, but clearly the idea of emotional responsibility in responding to these events extends well beyond that. And at every level and every rank how we handle the incident while it's unfolding, how we progressed through the phases, how we clear, how we move people, doesn't have to be just kids by the way. Lindsey was a grown adult woman, accomplished and successful and it was tough for her, as it is for Christina and everybody else who has to recover from this. And I think in the final phase of that, we've got to be emotionally responsible, again at all levels. From leadership and all the way down to the line ranks about making sure we're all okay and checking out on each other.

Harry Jimenez:

And with that, somebody out there is going to be listening to this podcast. And whoever you are, you may need to ask for help and you're too hard headed to ask for help. It's okay. It's okay to ask for help. Don't kill yourself from the inside out, because you can still do a lot of good to others. So take the first step.

Robert McMahan:

Yeah, I'd like to echo that Harry, it is okay to ask for help. I've done it. I had a 32 year career and I've done it and I'm okay. I'm okay now. But you can do it too. So leaders all the way down first-line officers, take care of each other.

Harry Jimenez:

Amen. Same here.

Bill Godfrey:

Well gentlemen, thank you very much for your time today and talking about this difficult topic. And I appreciate the honesty and the candor as I know our audience does as well. So Harry, Robert, Kevin, thank you for taking the time today and for being here and discussing this important topic. Ladies and gentlemen if you have not subscribed to the podcast, please do. We release a new podcast every Monday. If you have some suggestions for topics that you would like us to cover, please feel free to either email us those ideas at info@c3pathways.com. We're here on a regular basis picking these things apart. We do from time to time have some guests on here as well. And of course our email address and phone number is always available if you need anything from us or we can do anything. In the meantime, stay safe.

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