Phoenix firefighters ready for mass-casualty incident

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Clark County Fire firefighters went in to the 'hot zone' wearing ballistic vests and helmets and paired up with police officers to get to the wounded as quickly as they could.  (Source: AP) Clark County Fire firefighters went in to the 'hot zone' wearing ballistic vests and helmets and paired up with police officers to get to the wounded as quickly as they could.  (Source: AP)

First responders showed an amazing display of teamwork in Sunday night's mass shooting in Las Vegas. Police and medics worked together to get to the victims as fast as they could.

The chief of the Clark County Fire Department said training, expert personnel and equipment helped save many lives.

[CONTINUING COVERAGE: Las Vegas mass shooting | How you can help]

Fire and police departments in the greater Phoenix area train for mass-casualty scenarios all the time.

Phoenix Fire Capt. Rob McDade hopes his department never has to respond to a mass shooting, but he believes if they do, they are ready.

"We're resource rich. With the personnel and the equipment that we have, we're going to surround that incident and we're going to feel like we almost have a redundant amount of resources," said McDade. “We go to a lot of mass casualty training exercises with the Phoenix Police Department and basically it's us following their orders.”

The Clark County firefighters responded in a unique way Sunday night. They went into the “hot zone” wearing ballistic vests and helmets and paired up with police officers to get to the wounded as quickly as they could.  

The Phoenix Fire Department does not have ballistic vests and helmets and currently have no plans to obtain them. They have devised a different strategy with police for active shooter scenarios.

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"We don't have ballistic vests. We don't have helmets. We've looked into it, but we do not have that right now. We feel our folks are best served at a close proximity, but in a warm zone safety to where they can then actually treat those [who are injured]. Because a paramedic who has now been shot, a firefighter who has been wounded is no good to helping somebody that's [sic] down on the ground," McDade said.

Phoenix does have what it calls multi-casualty packs similar to Clark County. Each fire truck is equipped with one, which contains enough supplies to treat up to 10 critically wounded.

“We have needles where we can decompress the chest. We've got tourniquets. We've got mass trauma dressings. We have actual, little teeny gurneys that would pull out from the bag that we could usher people in and out of the scene,” said McDade.

Communication between officers and firefighters has also gotten dramatically better in recent years. The days are over of firefighters talking to their dispatchers, who then talk to police dispatchers and ultimately pass information along to officers on the street.

"Our radios we switch over to the blue deck; we're talking directly to them," said McDade.   

While Phoenix does not use the police and fire “team” approach to get to victims quickly, the Mesa Fire and Medical Department is moving toward that model. They are in the process of getting ballistic vests and helmets for their firefighters and they currently have more than a dozen SWAT-Medics, fire paramedics who are trained in tactical response.

[RELATED: Phoenix native among doctors who treated Vegas shooting victims]

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Donna RossiEmmy Award-winning reporter Donna Rossi joined CBS 5 News in September 1994.

Click to learn more about Donna.

Donna Rossi

In that time, Donna has covered some of the most high-profile stories in the Valley and across the state. Donna's experience as a four-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department gives her a keen sense of crime and court stories. She offered gavel to gavel coverage of the 1999 sleepwalking murder trial of Scott Falater, and the trial and conviction of retired Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien for a fatal hit and run accident. She also spent 2 straight weeks in northeastern Arizona in the summer of 2011 covering the Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Donna's reputation as a fair and accurate journalist has earned her the respect of her colleagues and community. Her talent as a reporter has earned her more than a dozen Arizona Associated Press Awards and five Emmy statue.

Donna previously worked as an anchor and reporter in Tucson and got her start in broadcast journalism in Flagstaff. Donna is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the NATAS board. She is a member of IFP/Phoenix, a non-profit organization of local film and documentary makers.

Donna was born in New York and moved to the Valley with her family when she was 9 years old. She is a graduate of Maryvale High School and attended Arizona State University. She graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University.

In her free time, Donna enjoys boating on Bartlett Lake, all forms of music and theatre. Donna frequently donates her time to speak to community organizations and emcee their events. She is a past board member of DUET, a non-profit which helps promote health and well-being for older adults. Donna also loves donating her time to youth organizations and groups who work to secure and safeguard human rights.

On Oct. 17, 2015, Donna was honored for her amazing work over the years. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences inducted her into its Silver Circle. It's one of the organization's most prestigious honors for which only a few candidates are selected each year.

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