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Violent intruder training held at West Marshall

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS – Law enforcement officers check hallways for threats during a training at West Marshall High School Wednesday.

STATE CENTER –Today’s uncertain world means agencies from federal to the local levels must be ready for a violent incident.

Training for such a scenario was the goal of a three-day violent intruder training at West Marshall High School. It involved local and area law enforcement, emergency personnel and firefighters.

“It is the Rescue Task Force training. In the past, we’ve done some pre- and post-shooter or violent intruder incidents. This brings another aspect into that,” said Marshall County Emergency Management Coordinator Kim Elder.

She said previous trainings involving an active shooting had two distinct phases — law enforcement went in to take down the threat while EMTs and paramedics followed after the threat had been cleared.

This week’s training involved a more risky, but realistic, scenario where emergency personnel came in to what the trainers called a “warm” zone. That means a threat may still exist for the law enforcement, paramedics and victims in the building.

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS – Paramedics pick up a “victim” during the intruder training.

“We don’t wait for that zone to be cold, we go in when it’s warm,” Elder said.

The minutes between a shooter being taken down and the time paramedics get to victims are vital. Too long of a wait can mean a victim bleeds to death instead of surviving.

Professionals from all the different sides of the training got a lot out of the three days of work.

“I think we learned a lot about what law enforcement does and what their responsibility is, as far as keeping us safe, securing the site, ‘warm’ versus ‘hot’ zones, things like that,” said Amber Carns, UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown paramedic and Kellogg Fire Department member. “I’ve taken a couple of these classes before but never one this intense.”

Marshalltown Police Department officer Tanner Hunt also said he learned a lot.

“The good thing about this from the law enforcement side is we got a little bit of the incident command portion,” he said. “Normally, at my level, that’s not what the job is going to be, but it’s good to train in that in case that time does come.”

Hunt said he enjoyed working with the emergency medical responders during the training.

“I know that if this incident were to happen in Marshalltown, they would come in, so it’s good to familiarize with them and get to know them and work with them,” he said.

The scenarios saw law enforcement officers enter the high school, peak around corners and engage in live “Simunition” gun fights with “shooters.” Meanwhile, paramedics awaited their signal to enter the building to treat and evacuate “victim” role players.

The scenarios changed significantly from one round to the next. Sometimes there was one shooter, sometimes more. Team sizes varied, and so did victim and shooter locations within the building.

At the end of each round, the entire group came together to discuss what went right, what went wrong and how to improve.

Along with Marshalltown and Marshall County emergency and law enforcement personnel, professionals and volunteers from Tama, Story, Polk, Boone and Jasper counties traveled to State Center for the training.

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Contact Adam Sodders at 641-753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com