Omaha firefighters take a lesson from police on disarming people

Omaha firefighters Steve Swan, left, and Dru Taylor practice disarming tactics with toy guns Thursday.

Omaha firefighters are learning defensive moves from police so they can protect themselves if they encounter an armed patient like the one who allegedly opened fire in the back of an ambulance.

Over the next two weeks, all fire and rescue workers will learn how to disarm people who are wielding guns, said Brandon Wilson, a spokesman for the Fire Department.

Omaha Police Officers Jon Edwards and Dustin Morris on Thursday went to a fire station at 107th and Pacific Streets to show firefighters and paramedics some of the techniques used by police.

Firefighters haven't received police defense training in the past, Wilson said.

But fire officials say it's necessary in the wake of the July 1 shooting of firefighter and paramedic Brock Borhart. Firefighters will receive the training annually, Wilson said.

“This specific training is to help firefighters protect themselves if an incident happens fast and police aren't there to help,” Wilson said. “It should only be used if there is an immediate threat.”

Borhart was shot while he and a partner were transporting Justine Dubois, 24, of Bellevue to a hospital.

Authorities say Dubois faked a seizure after she was arrested in connection with a car theft.

Police say they searched Dubois thoroughly before she was uncuffed and placed in the ambulance.

At some point during the ride, Dubois allegedly pulled out a gun, which went off. Borhart suffered a minor injury. Dubois, also struck by a bullet, was more seriously wounded.

She is in the Douglas County Jail, awaiting trial on charges of felony assault, making terroristic threats, use of a weapon to commit a felony and gun possession by a prohibited person.

Edwards and Morris teach defensive tactics at the Omaha Police Academy.

Firefighter Marcus Johnson, 32, said Thursday he has been more aware of his surroundings at work since the shooting.

Johnson learned several defensive tactics to disarm a threatening person. He went through several role-playing scenarios with a partner. They each practiced taking away a fake gun.

“I have never experienced training like this in my life,” Johnson said. “The incident last month has made everyone more aware and has made us realize we could really use defensive training.”

Johnson said the firefighters should go through defensive training at least twice a year.

“I don't think once a year is enough,” he said. “How will we be able to retain it?”

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