By Chad Frey
Newton Kansan – March 4, 2016
Dan Bronson was standing at a town hall meeting in Hesston when applause erupted. The mayor of Hesston had just introduced several people involved in what is called “Incident Command.”
Bronson isn’t talking to the media about his experience in Hesston following a mass shooting Feb. 25. He prefers to keep a low profile. However, Saturday night he will pick up an award from the Newton Fire Department for his work surrounding incident management. Ironically, the award was announced by the department two days before the tragedy in Hesston.
“Any place in Kansas, he can show up and organize,” said Luke Edwards, a member of the section committee for the first-ever Outstanding Achievement Awards. “Dan is one of the most well trained and well versed people we have in incident command.”
The 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award winners are Firefighter/EMT Zac Lujano, Chief Mark Willis, Lieutenant Phil Beebe, Firefighter/Paramedic Kevin Finley, Deputy Chief Scott Metzler, Firefighter/EMT Dan Bronson, and Lieutenant Cory Lehman.
There will be a reception at 2 p.m. March 5 at Station No. 3, 2520 Kansas Ave.
Bronson is being honored for more than his work in incident command — he has also served as a volunteer in places like Honduras.
But right now, it is incident command that is getting Bronson attention.
After Cedric Ford went on a shooting spree that started in Newton and ended in Hesston leaving four people dead and 14 more wounded at Excel Industries, response was massive. According to Hesston city manager Gary Emry, within 45 minutes about 700 first responders had descended on Hesston.
Fifteen ambulances and two helicopters responded, as did the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Agency , the Newton Police Department, the Hesston Police Department, the North Newton Police Department , the Burrton Police Department , the Wichita Police Department, the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office and the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.
Planning and coordinating in the middle of it stood Bronson, within the Incident Command System structure.
“Dan has done an amazing job,” said Erin McDaniel, public information officer for the city of Newton and incident command. “He has been leading all of our meetings and keeping us organized.”
Bronson is part of a statewide Incident Command Team, a team created after the 9-11 attacks on New York City and Washington D.C.
According to FEMA the Incident Command System (ICS) is a management system designed to enable effective and efficient domestic incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure. ICS is normally structured to facilitate activities in five major functional areas: command, operations, planning, logistics, Intelligence & Investigations, finance and administration.
Bronson has been working with Harvey County Emergency Management Director Gary Denny to write protocols for incidents just like the one experienced in Hesston. He has trained with the Newton Fire Department and the state command team.
And while he has been doing that, he has also trained foreign first responders. In 2014 Bronson traveled to Honduras. While there Bronson taught 51 Honduran National Police cadets CPR, First Aid, the Heimlich Maneuver, wound management, and hazardous materials safety. He bought law enforcement trauma kits for everyone in the class, supplied with tourniquets, Z-Pak trauma dressings, gloves and CPR masks.
He trained the cadets how to use these materials to save the lives of their fellow officers and encouraged them to not be afraid to use their skills on the general public as first responders at a scene. Throughout the week, Bronson randomly quizzed the cadets giving them a scenario to react to immediately. By Bronson’s departure, they were responding well and quickly.
Bronson also goes on annual trips to Cambodia with a mission that works against human trafficking. The expenses for his mission trips are out of pocket, and he uses his vacation days. He appreciates the support and understanding of his fire department as he makes these trips.