New Rescue Task Force utilized during Deaconess shooting

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by WHITNEY WARD & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on July 9, 2014 at 6:21 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 9 at 8:29 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Members of local law enforcement agencies said a new system helped them respond to a fatal shooting Tuesday at Deaconess medical center on Spokane’s lower South Hill. The Spokane Fire Department was able to send members of its new Rescue Task Force in with police officers to assess the situation for the first time.

Police said the husband of a Deaconess employee entered the Cancer Treatment Center and fatally shot her before turning the gun on himself.

WATCH: Deaconess murder -suicide shooting leaves 2 dead

In the past, fire officials were trained to wait outside in similar situations until police were able to clear the scene. Spokane Police officers were not sure what they were walking into at Deaconess on Tuesday.

 “This is an extremely complex building and lots of places for an active shooter to hide,” said Brian Schaeffer with the Spokane Fire Department.

That did not stop members of the new task force from entering the scene alongside police. The task force was put together less than a month before the shooting, with the goal of providing emergency assistance to victims as quickly as possible. Although the incident at Deaconess was isolated, the task force went in prepared for the worst.

“We moved three teams in total, up to the sixth floor. We mobilized them in a stairwell,” explained Schaeffer. "And as soon as the area was deemed safe from police, we move our assets up to those patients and immediately started care. Just within minutes of being deployed."

READ: Deaconess staff trained for ‘Code Silver’ situation

Meanwhile the rest of the hospital campus operated as normal, with patients continuing to come and go despite the commotion. Once the threat was over, officers began processing the scene. They said the first true emergency was a success for the Rescue Task Force.

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