NEWBERRY — In an effort to protect schools in the county, Newberry County law enforcement agencies participated in an active threat training June 25-29.
“The purpose of the drills are to save lives, that’s the main thing. We want to save teacher’s lives, student’s lives and officer’s lives, we’ve gotten really good feedback so far from most of the participants,” said Sheriff Lee Foster.
For training purposes, to simulate ammunition officers used simunition rounds. Foster said the drills are made to look as real as possible should a school shooting occur.
“If an officer or role player gets hit it’s going to sting, but we want to show you what can possibly happen in these things, it’s really sad that as a society we’re having to do this, but we want to be prepared,” he said.
Lt. Richie Moore, who oversees training for the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, defined an active threat as the process in that moment of killing that is bringing bodily injuries to people.
“We changed it from active shooter to active threat because we are seeing people use things other than guns, it can be anything from a knife, gun, automobile or baseball bat,” Moore said.
During training, Moore reviewed Crisis Preparedness Procedures, plans that can come into play in multiple locations.
“Plans are in place for schools, but they can come into play for office buildings or any public gathering place, most of the time plans go out the window when things happen and that plan is to help us get back on track when the train does get off the track,” he said.
The primary role, Moore said, is to go inside the school, find the threat and eliminate it, keeping in mind how crucial communication is during an incident.
“Your job is to go and stop that threat. You’ve got to get inside even if you’re the first officer there because every second counts, every second is a life so we’ve got to get in there and stop the threat,” Moore said.
Moore also spoke on the role the Rescue Task Force (RTF) plays during an incident.
The RTF is comprised of law enforcement officers, EMS and Fire and Rescue Personnel.
“RTF is not a Rescue Team, it’s for mass casualty incidents. The role is to get inside, treat the wounded and stop the dying,” he said.
He also highlighted the three zones to an active location including:
• hot zone: bullets are flying and there is a known possibility that a threat is in that area
• warm zone: once an area has been swept and there doesn’t appear to be a threat
• cold zone: area has been thoroughly searched and there is definitely no threat there
“Get in there ready to start treatment and get them ready to evacuate, by doing this we’ve gotten the casualty fatality rate down less than nine percent,” he said
Once the threat has either been eliminated or lost contact with, officers will perform a Post Engagement Status Check to make sure that no team members are injured and composure can be regained. The Post Engagement Status Check follows in the order of:
• check weapons/ammo
• check yourself for life-threatening injuries
• check equipment
“It’s awesome to be able to work with the School District and law enforcement agencies from across the county to work together to try to make this safer, we are preparing for the worst, but praying for the best as we go through this training. I pray we never need it, but should we, we are prepared and will respond to it to keep our children safe,” NCSO Chief Deputy Todd Johnson said.
He added that as shooter tactics evolve, law enforcement officers have to adapt to those tactics.
“We are seeing shooters engage with law enforcement as they get into the shooting and we’re also seeing shooters who are just straight attacking law enforcement as they arrive and so it’s much more of a tactical game than it has been in previous years, we see shooters who are prepared with military tactics to fight against us so the shooting response has evolved from a rapid response to a rapid, but tactical response,” he said.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.