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300 Ill., Iowa first responders spend a week training on active shooter scenarios

First responders from the Quad-Cities region worked on rescue task force and EMS best practices

By Thomas Geyer
Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus

DAVENPORT, Iowa — About 300 law enforcement officers and firefighters from multiple Quad-Cities agencies spent the week at Davenport Central High School practicing an array of active shooter scenarios that were as realistic as possible.

The training included volunteers who acted as victims and filled other roles.

Davenport Police Lt. Nicholas Shorten said that Quad-Cities law enforcement and firefighters work together very well in their day-to-day operations, but it is important they train together to be ready for an active shooter situation.

“If a tragedy like this does happen in our community, we are going to need everybody to come and help us,” Shorten said. “So, if we train together now, we will be better prepared if this actually happens.”

During the training, instructors guided the law enforcement and fire department personnel through vital command principles, response tactics, rescue task force protocols and emergency medical best practices.

During training Thursday morning, law enforcement broke into three separate groups and practiced single-officer response, multiple-officer response and then an exterior response in case there was an active shooter in an open situation outside. The fire departments focused on medical aid.

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In the afternoon, the agencies worked together on four active shooter scenarios where police took out the shooters while firefighters located and took care of the injured.

Simulations were performed using what is known as “simunition” rounds and weapons. The projectiles fired from the weapons aren’t lethal but can sting.

During the shooter simulations, the rounds can be heard popping off. Empty casings littered the areas where the simulations were taking place.

After each simulation, those involved would go through a debriefing to learn what went right or wrong and what could be improved.

Two men skilled with firearms acted as assailants during the week. One was former Davenport Police Sgt. Jacob Pries, who was there as the law enforcement representative of the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command. The other was Jeremy Paxton, co-founder of The Gunnery Project, which provides firearms training and consulting.

Troy Said, Bettendorf’s fire chief, said that should an active shooter situation occur, “no individual city is going to be able to handle this on their own. We went through different scenarios, and it takes multiple agencies to pull this off.

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“The primary thing is to stop the killing and stop the dying,” he said. “If we’re not all together moving forward, we’re not going to accomplish that.”

Said added that many of the agencies have military veterans who have been through such training before, or actual battle.

“They’ve been through this before, and they’re good at it, and that’s the key to this,” he said. “That’s why we’re doing these trainings, to get everybody through it.”

While the agencies were training at Davenport Central, Said pointed out that statistics show an active shooter situation is more likely to occur at a business.

“But we all think about schools because we all think about our children, and the most important thing is protecting our children, and protecting our community,” he said.

Shorten said that doing the training in Davenport Central High School is an advantage because the school is large, and while the departments have maps and layouts of buildings in their towns, there is no substitute for being inside and learning the layout.

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“I understand the layout now,” he said. “This school is huge. If you’ve never been here before you can get lost very easily.”

The agencies involved in the training were the Bettendorf, Davenport, East Moline, Moline and Rock Island police departments, the Rock Island County and Scott County sheriff’s departments and the Davenport and Bettendorf fire departments. The Scott County Emergency Communications Center, QComm911 and the Rock Island Arsenal also participated in the training.

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