BRUNSWICK, Maine — A Colorado fire official who was among the first responders on the scene at the 1999 Columbine High School shootings is providing an overview of the tragedy as part of an emergency preparedness training seminar for public safety, school and municipal officials in Maine 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 12, at Southern Maine Community College’s Midcoast Campus.
The Maine Fire Service Institute, a department of Southern Maine Community College, is hosting the one-day seminar called “Emergency Response and Planning to School Shootings.” About 120 people have registered for the event.
Jay Ruoff, a division chief with the Littleton (Colo.) Fire Rescue department, will give a presentation about the Columbine shootings that will serve as a platform for first responders and community and government leaders to discuss their communities’ ability to respond to a similar act of violence. Ruoff has years of experience in responding to critical incidents, including the Columbine shootings.
It’s important for emergency responders and education officials in Maine to review their response capabilities in crisis situations, said Bill Guindon, director of Maine Fire Service Institute. Guindon was living outside of Littleton in 1999 and recalls the chaos when he was called to Columbine High School as a first responder the day of the shootings.
“It’s been 14 years,” Guindon said. “The seminar will look at lessons learned and how to apply them in Maine.”
Guindon said he organized the seminar because school emergency response training is vital and a hot topic in the wake of last year’s school shootings in Connecticut. He’s not aware of any other training seminar of this scale being held in Maine.
“The more training they get and the more they learn, the better they’ll be able to respond if ever faced with a similar situation,” Guindon said.
At the time, the attack by two armed students at Columbine High School was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history; the shooters killed 12 students and one teacher and injured 24 others before killing themselves.
The Maine Fire Service Institute provides training and education services to Maine’s fire agencies and firefighting professionals.