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County first responders learn about active shooter emergencies

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BOARDMAN, Ohio - A panel of Mahoning County first responders shared their expertise in coordinating a response to an active shooter or school threat.

"I have to be able to know my information, know how to do it and respond immediately," said Sgt. Ken Goist, resource officer at Springfield Local Schools.

The open discussion hosted by the Mahoning County Safety Council at Mr. Anothy's Banquet Center in Boardman provided an opportunity for first responders and community members, even business managers and owners, to ask questions.

Rick Rogers, a professor in Youngstown State University's Criminal Justice Department, facilitated the discussion between first responders and expert panelists that focused on active shooter emergencies.

Along with Goist, panelists included Assistant Chief Mike Cretella, YSU police; Chief Vincent D'Egidio, New Middletown police; Jessica Jaros, central tier disaster supervisor for the northeast region of the American Red Cross; and Steve Ruggles, director of operations at Master Security.

Goist believes local police departments still need more training, but finding funding to bring officers up to speed on the latest tactics and methods isn't always available.

His years of experience play a major role in how he handles himself while responding to an incident, but times have changed.

"In the past, it was dealing with the wounded people; our job now is to isolate the threat and to be able to deal with the threat quickly," he said.

Goist says his department often notices that schools, businesses and other local groups are not aware of how they will respond, which is something they need to better communicate.

"They really don't know how we're going to react so we have to go out there and educate them a little bit more," Goist said.

Goist says second-guessing during a response could cost someone their life.

That's why his department plans to offer a free training session open to all area departments next month.

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