responder should be prepared to find that the perpetrator of any
act of violence will have left the area as soon as possible. (It’s the
self-preserving essence of a criminal act: Flee from justice before
getting caught.) For all those responding, it is necessary to keep in
mind that this threat could be anywhere and, most importantly,
probably is not where you expect it to be.
As discussed earlier, staging has become the firefighter’s strategic
option to insert a measure of defense into a potentially adverse
scenario. Staging, in this framework, does not follow the same
principles as the above laid out definition for a fixed-area backdrop. Duality exits here.
An alternative representation of staging for a call with projected
violence looks more like the following: an operational judgment
placing an apparatus in an area that not only is removed from the
immediate danger zone but is far enough away from the KNOWN
problem to construct a refuge buffer. Also, if the known call
address changes to an unknown and the corridor is condensed,
abrupt alteration can ensue. (A constant radius of safety needs
to be maintained.) Crews should always assume that the “warm
zone” could become the “hot zone” at any time, and each person
must monitor and observe their surroundings for the precarious
persons or perilous threats. Also, units must stage at a spot where
more than one egress/exit is available to quickly exploit. Staging
should be secretive and the distinguishing geography not disclosed
either through radio communication or visual allurements such as
parking lights or headlights. It’s easy to see the nature of staging
for violence takes on a drastically different persona, and the “what”
and “why” drive this decision making.
STAGING IS FOR GOOD REASONS
While security is never guaranteed, safety is the number one benefit of staging IF staging is done correctly. The connection is obvious:
Staging appropriately yields an enhanced window of protection and
opportunity. By allowing police officers and deputies to confront any
violent threats and render the scene safe, emergency medical services
(EMS), with little safety distractions, can focus entirely on rendering
emergency aid on arrival, meeting their primary life-safety objective.
In conjunction, one of the key underlying attributes obtained
through staging is clarity to an undetermined, muddled situation.
As we wait in staging, law enforcement investigates and determines
the exact nature of the calamity, which in turn allows fire and
EMS the ability to respond in and perform with limited delay and
increased effectiveness using the exact remedies required. When an
emergency can run smoothly, everyone involved wins.
What’s more, whereas staging in a large-scale incident is focused
entirely on managing scene efficiency, staging for a hostile threat
emphasizes establishing layers of control. From the firefighter and
EMS provider’s perspective, they assemble a carefully coordinated
and controlled progression into the uncertain situation, which
prevents them from becoming helpless victims to unwanted acts of
aggression while they maintain a command and control presence.
Just like “gating back” a valve while flowing a hoseline allows the
driver/engineer to pressurize the line precisely, staging keeps crews
from essentially “biting off more than they can chew.” And, for the
law enforcement counterpart, they can act unrestricted without
concerning themselves over an unarmed, civil servant entering the
fray and disrupting or altering their plan of attack.
On large-scale emergency response incidents, such as
wildland deployments, fireground operations, or even
rescue events, apparatus and crew placement prior to
access into the work zone is critical for organization, communication, and accountability. (Photo by Tina Gianos.)