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Rapid Response: Terror in Maine as search continues for mass-shooting suspect

Leaders must ensure that the necessary counseling and recovery resources are available for their responders

Maine Shooting

Stretchers are lined up outside the emergency room at Central Maine Medical Center.

Derek Davis/AP

What happened: As of this writing, at least 18 people are reported deceased after a shooter opened fire in a crowded bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston, Maine. Lewiston is Maine’s second most populated town, located about 45 minutes north of Portland.

Dozens of additional people are reported to be injured, although it is unclear how many of those were shot versus injured in the rush to evacuate the scene. Surveillance video shows the shooter with some sort of assault weapon.

What we know about the suspected shooter: Robert Card, who was initially referred to as a “person of interest” is now being considered a suspect and facing multiple counts of murder, Maine State Police Col. William G. Ross said.

Card had previously been treated in a mental health facility. He is also reportedly a firearms instructor with some military experience.

The suspect’s vehicle was located in the town of Lisbon, about 7 miles southeast of Lewiston.

As of this writing, the shooter is still at large. The Maine State Police are leading the investigation, and local police departments have issued shelter-in-place orders while the search continues.

Why it’s important: While multiple fire and EMS agencies undoubtedly responded, there is scant information available about this component of the response at this time. Conceptually, these responses are no different whether you’re in Maine or any other state. A well exercised and coordinated Rescue Task Force concept is among the industry best practices that would provide for the best chances of success. The dynamic nature of an active shooter makes a coordinated fire and EMS response even more critical.

Beyond the response, public safety leaders MUST ensure that the necessary counseling and recovery resources are available for their responders. No department, regardless of size, will be resilient enough to recover alone after dealing with dozens of casualties, especially in an active shooting incident.

What’s next: Details will continue to emerge, and numbers will continue to be updated. Responders will continue to deal with the external responses to the incident and the internal responses to their own physical strength and mental wellness.

In the meantime, calls for service will continue to come in to 911, and fire and EMS will need to be prepared to respond. Fire and EMS responders must ensure they are operating under a heightened sense of awareness and that fire, EMS and police leaders are talking, face to face, on a regular basis.

Additional resources:

Chief Marc S. Bashoor joined the Lexipol team in 2018, serving as the FireRescue1 and Fire Chief executive editor and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board. With 40 years in emergency services, Chief Bashoor previously served as public safety director in Highlands County, Florida; as chief of the Prince George’s County (Maryland) Fire/EMS Department; and as emergency manager in Mineral County, West Virginia. Chief Bashoor assisted the NFPA with fire service missions in Brazil and China, and has presented at many industry conferences and trade shows. He has contributed to several industry publications. He is a National Pro-board certified Fire Officer IV, Fire Instructor III and Fire Instructor. Connect with Chief Bashoor at on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Do you have a leadership tip or incident you’d like to discuss? Send the chief an email.