A seminar titled “Active Shooter and Situational Awareness” is being offered for firefighters and other emergency responders this spring in Northern New York at no cost to participants.
After a two-year break because of COVID-19, organizers will be holding the 9th Annual Garrett W. Loomis Educational Seminar on April 2 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, New York.
The Crisis Consulting Group, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, will be conducting the training seminar, which is also open to business owners and their employees, along with school officials. The training is designed to “make sure your personnel have the safest, most practical and most effective de-escalation and conflict resolution training in the industry,” according to organizers.
“Active shooter incidents are becoming more frequent in parts of our world; therefore, we need to keep ahead of these incidents and understand our responsibilities,” said T.G. Kolb, a firefighter and seminar organizer.
The event is being offered free of charge to anyone interested in attending through a special fund established to honor the late Garrett Loomis, a Sackets Harbor, New York firefighter who was killed in the line of duty more than 10 years ago. It will focus on the duties and roles of emergency services personnel and others to help mitigate and de-escalate an active shooter threat in the safest manner.
Garrett, a hero to many in his community, lost his life on April 11, 2010, while battling a silo fire on a large dairy farm in Northern New York.
The loss of the 26-year-old was not only a shock to his family and friends, but the entire firefighting community, particularly those who were at the fire scene that day. Firefighters from the Sackets Harbor Volunteer Fire Department were the first to respond to the blaze, and Garrett had raced ahead toward the burning silo to secure the structure.
Garrett was a professional firefighter at Fort Drum, New York a nearby military post. But on that day, he was answering the call for help as a volunteer. He was a third-generation firefighter whose chosen career path had followed in the footsteps of his brother, father, and grandfather.
Garrett was closest to the 60-foot-high silo when it suddenly exploded. Firefighters from the volunteer department raced against time to help transport Garrett to a nearby hospital, but the injuries he suffered were too traumatic.
He was the only firefighter from his department not to return home that day.
In keeping with a time-honored tradition, Garrett’s dedication to his profession and volunteer service was recognized in a tribute by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
His parents, Amy and Gary Loomis, had suffered the deepest loss imaginable when their son lost his life that day. They decided to start their path toward healing by acting on a strong desire to prevent another tragedy.
They worked with other firefighters to establish an annual fire safety training program called the Garrett W. Loomis Fire Safety Educational Series. The initial focus was on the potential dangers of fighting agricultural fires and handling farming related hazards.
The firefighting community threw its support behind the initiative and since the annual training seminars started, they have drawn between 150 and 200 attendees each year from throughout New York State and other parts of the country, said Mr. Kolb.
“We wanted to help people take this important safety information back to their hometowns,” Mr. Kolb said. “Although many seminars have focused on the theme of agriculture and fire safety, we’ve expanded into other topics.”
The seminars have built up a reputation by featuring speakers from throughout the country who have offered an “outside perspective” on a variety of safety issues for emergency responders. Past seminars have covered emergencies related to tractor injuries, machinery and grain bin hazards, confined spaces and toxic gases, manure storage system hazards and silo types.
His parents established a fund with Northern New York Community Foundation in Watertown, N.Y. to sponsor the annual training seminars and find a meaningful way to honor the loss of their son.
As time passes, people may forget about the tragic accident, but the educational seminars, along with a scholarship established in his name, have given Garrett’s family the opportunity to continue their son’s story, said Rande Richardson, executive director of the Northern New York Community Foundation.
“They have shared not only the risk of his chosen occupation in hopes of preventing future tragedies, but also have allowed others the chance to know Garrett beyond his name,” Mr. Richardson said. “These efforts that continue Garrett’s legacy tie into what type of person he was in life.”
Gary Loomis, the father of Garrett Loomis, was also a Fort Drum firefighter. In January of 2021 at the age of 70, he passed away unexpectedly after suffering a medical emergency. Gary has been remembered by many in the community for his dedication to enhancing firefighter safety education by helping to establish the Garrett W. Loomis Foundation after his son’s death to provide additional support for the educational training seminars and scholarship program.