By Ms. Dawn M Arden (Leonard Wood)April 18, 2019
The sound of gun fire overpowers the smoke filled hallway of Fort Leonard Wood's Building 6501 as first responders carefully step around emptied magazines and hundreds of shell casings littering the floor.
This scene was not a real-life event, only an active-shooter practical exercise held April 4 as the culminating event of Rescue Task Force training hosted by the Directorate of Emergency Services.
Approximately 115 law enforcement officers, fire fighters and Emergency Medical Service personnel from across the installation and their civilian counterparts from surrounding communities attended this two-day training event.
The training is not designed to teach the tactical aspects of dealing with an active-shooter situation, but is meant to teach how to provide medical attention to the victims in a safe and timely manner, according to Fort Leonard Wood Fire Chief Brad Bowling.
"With some of these injuries you may only have a 10-minute window to get to them," Bowling said. "They figured out that we had to find some way to get medical assets in there quicker. The question is how can we do that and still keep them safe?"
Bowling said the solution was creating and training Rescue Task Forces. The RTF training teaches the importance of first responders working together in order to save more lives, he said.
During the course, officers are taught to provide security for, and escort, life-saving medical personnel into areas that have been cleared but still hold the potential for harm instead of the "old" thought process of having to wait until the situation was over.
"It's all about saving lives. The faster we can do something and act, the faster you can save lives," said James Bott, DES police instructor, who attended the training last year in Georgia with a couple of his fellow instructors.
"We worked very hard to get (the training) here, because we saw the value of it and we wanted to present that to our Fort Leonard Wood assets," Bott said.
Fort Leonard Wood fire fighter Kyle Johnson said this is the first training event of this type that he has attended, adding that the training was very valuable.
"It was a lot to process, even just minding where your patients are going," Johnson said. "And now you're with an officer who's going in and clearing the room for a threat -- I'm worried about a patient, but in the back of my mind I'm also thinking, 'Hey, there could be a threat here.' It's a lot to take in."