The Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System (LC-CFRS) and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) is proud to announce that their integrated “High Threat Team” was recently awarded the 2021 Governor’s Fire Service Award at the 2022 Virginia Fire Chief’s Conference. The Governor’s Fire Service Awards, established in 2002, honor excellence in Virginia’s Fire Service and are facilitated by the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, in partnership with the Virginia Fire Services Board.
The Loudoun County High Threat Team consists of uniformed members of both the LC-CFRS and LCSO and exemplifies dedication to sound management principles, coordination, and excellence in fire service leadership. Although both agencies have collaborated on this initiative for several years, this year marked the official formation of a unified team. In 2021, this team worked cooperatively across disciplines to develop new levels of integrated training, policy development, and combined response initiatives.
Each new fire and rescue member and deputy receive this integrated tactical emergency casualty care (TECC) and rescue task force (RTF) training which features instructors from both fire/rescue and law enforcement disciplines.
Among the various stages of training, the most innovative and successful is the quarterly 'Act of Violence Unified Command Competency Lab Training'. Conducted in the Fire and Rescue Command Lab, police and fire commanders are confronted with a simulated active shooter incident. Together, they form unified command and direct units to deploy into the warm zone for patient care and extraction. “Through these realistic training exercises, fire and police commanders can develop effective working relationships prior to being on the scene of an actual incident,” said Assistant Chief James Williams. “The daily working relationship and unified command training fostered by the Loudoun County High Threat Team is unmatched and provides an impeccable example of fire and law enforcement cooperation.”
At the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association Conference in Virginia Beach, LC-CFRS was also awarded the Virginia Fire Chiefs Foundation Best Practices in Fire Service Health & Safety Award for our Behavioral Health Program. The LC-CFRS program, which includes the Behavioral Health Coordinator, Peer Support Team, and Chaplains Corps., has provided much needed and sought-after behavioral health support for our system and beyond.
In FY2019, The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved the funding for Loudoun County Fire and Rescue to hire a Behavioral Health Coordinator trained in psychology or a related field to focus on program development and daily support for a new, peer-based program. Funding was also provided to create and train a Peer Support Team and further develop a dedicated chaplaincy program, or Chaplains Corp.
Today, Beth Flaherty functions as our Behavioral Health Coordinator for LC-CFRS and runs the Behavioral Health Program. The LC-CFRS Peer Support Team has grown to include seventeen trained LC-CFRS members and a robust Chaplain Corps that provide emergent and non-emergent emotional support to system members, law enforcement, and citizens.
LC-CFRS is proud to provide 24-hour support to each of our members through a Behavioral Health Hotline where they can immediately engage with a Peer Support Team member or member of our Chaplains Corp in their time of need. Ms. Flaherty has also created a bi-weekly Stress/Trauma Support Group for first responders where they can work through stressors and trauma with peers along with the support of a behavioral health professional. “As the System Chief, I recognize the importance of maintaining the health and wellness of our first responders,” said Chief Keith Johnson. “It is just as important for our system members, from those running emergency incidents to the professionals that answer the 911 calls, to be not only physically fit, but mentally and emotionally resilient. Ms. Flaherty and her staff have created a remarkable, multi-faceted behavioral health program that can be easily accessed by all our career and volunteer personnel, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.”