By: Megan Roche
Funded through a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, some local towns will begin to feel a lot safer thanks to a new rescue task force when it comes to the threats of active shooters. The new community-based rescue task force was founded in part with Morris County Sherriff James Gannon and the Responsible School Violence Prevention, Preparation, Protection (RSVP-3) in response to the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Fla.
“RSVP-3 is a multi-disciplinary approach to identifying, evaluating and responding to
threats to schools, houses of worship and other institutions. RSVP-3 involves the participation of Morris County schools, superintendents, mental health experts, police and emergency services personnel, with the U.S. Secret Service and Office of Homeland Security among the agencies that provided their expertise.” Gannon said in a press release.
Through RSVP-3, teachers and administrators are being trained on how to handle active shooter situations, but also how to prevent them. This is done through training on mental health crisis’ and enhancing school security. RSVP-3 is also training new recruits at the Morris County Public Safety Academy on tactical response to an active shooter situation.
Currently, when responding to a threat, police must clear the scene and neutralize the threat before they can help the injured. However, with this new task force, the training would provide individuals from the fire department and EMS with the means to go into a situation with a police escort and begin to render aid. By rendering aid earlier, officials are hoping to save people from bleeding out.
“This is about accepting risks, but they’re calculated risks,” Sheriff Gannon said. “At the end of the day, when the bell rings, we want to neutralize the threat,” he said.
Sheriff Gannon and his team at the Morris County Sheriff’s Department have also recently created an app that will help those in these dire situations. The app, RSVP-3 Morris County, NJ, will enable law enforcement, educational and mental health partners, students, parents, and community members to connect, discover, and anonymously report any act of violence.
With the rise in school shootings, many local school boards are inching up their security measures to prevent incidents from happening. Currently, the communities of Washington Township, Randolph, and Mount Olive have inked agreements to participate in the community rescue task force. Funding provided by the grant would pay for bulletproof vests for EMS workers.