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First responders undergo active threat training in Big Cypress

BIG CYPRESS — First responders – law enforcement, paramedics, firefighters – face real life situations that the average person rarely has to imagine. Those situations include active threats and the aftermath – any incident that creates an immediate or imminent danger to a community.

Pam Kelley, portraying an injured person, is cared for by Seminole Fire Rescue firefighter/paramedic Cherie Arroyo during an active threat training response in Big Cypress. (Photo courtesy SPD)
From left, Seminole Fire Rescue’s John Vilches, James Reitz and Ryan Poux and Seminole Police’s Francis Persaud carry out an ‘injured person’ during an active threat training response in Big Cypress. (Photo courtesy SPD)

A commonly held active threat scenario includes active shooters and perhaps a hostage or barricaded subject.

The Seminole Police Department, Fire Rescue and Emergency Medical Services personnel recently learned a lot about potential situations and threats at a Department of Homeland Security-hosted training Nov. 8.

The one day active threat integrated response course took place at the Big Cypress public safety building.

“Actors” were recruited to portray victims with injuries, using fake blood and other makeup, for trainees to respond to as if it was happening in real time.

Gerry Flood was the lead trainer, along with Training Lieutenant David Billy of the SPD in Brighton and Donald DiPetrillo, Seminole Fire Rescue Chief/Director.

The course essentially seeks to improve integration between law enforcement, fire and EMS in active shooter events. Trainers taught key medical skills based on “tactical emergency casualty care” (TECC) guidelines which are used at what’s called the “point of injury,” to increase victim survival.

The course also provides a framework for personnel to utilize and understand an extensive “Active Shooter Incident Management Checklist.”

There were two tribal liaisons on hand at the training from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge – Steven Golubic and Robert Holden. Golubic and Holden are with LSU’s “National Center for Biomedical Research and Training,” (NCBRT) part of the school’s Academy of Counter Terrorism Education.

The LSU group was contracted by the Seminole Tribe to offer the Department of Homeland Security-certified course.

“The Tribe has a well-developed public safety infrastructure staffed by professional responders,” Holden said. “The enthusiastic attitude and energy of the Tribal responders taking the [course] was great to see.”

Holden, who is Choctaw-Chickasaw, retired last year as the deputy director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). He worked at the organization for more than 30 years on several issues, including a wide range of Homeland Security and emergency management topics.

Holden said his department expressed a desire a few years ago to provide more training to tribal government community responders.

“I feel they have not only lived up to their commitment but are now working to deliver a broader array of courses that will benefit citizens of tribal communities,” Holden said.

“There is a need for critical response training of this caliber in Indian Country,” he said.

Seminole officials have already asked the two to return in order to train additional fire, paramedic and police personnel.

Golubic retired from the Department of Homeland Security as the director of tribal affairs in 2013. He has more than 30 years of experience in emergency management, including work in various positions with tribal, federal, state, and county governments.

“The next steps for [our department] is to continue outreach, build trust, and develop additional training that is relevant to the needs of Indian Country,” he said.

Golubic is a member of the Whitefish River Ojibwe First Nation.

Lead trainers brief attendees, which include first responders from the Seminole Tribe, at an active threat integrated response training by the Department of Homeland Security. The training took place Nov. 8 at the Big Cypress public safety building. (Photo courtesy SPD)


Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at

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