SWAT Training At Oregon School Imitates Active-Shooter Event

There’s nothing quite as terrifying as hiding under a counter, screaming for help, as bullets fly all around you and heavily armed men in combat helmets sneak down hallways.

That’s what about 20 students of Brookings-Harbor Christian School in Oregon experienced when they participated in a two-day mock mass casualty shooting training Wednesday and Thursday in a vacant medical building on Fifth Street.

Participants in the training event Wednesday included local law enforcement ranging from reserve deputies to SWAT team members, fire and ambulance personnel and a large contingent from the community.

“You think this is stressful?” Jess Oliver, a state trooper with SWAT asked the officers at the end of the day. “How do you think you’d feel in real life? We’re pretty stressed out right now. Things aren’t going to go perfect.”

Participants — the “victims” — were briefed on safety issues and donned helmets and safety glasses. At close range, even the soap-laden bullets can tear through a thick pair of denim jeans. The soap stain will wash out, but the bruise will stick around for awhile.

Contrary to popular belief, schools are not where most mass shootings occur, he said. Those incidents get the most media attention because of the children involved.

“The shootings most often happen in workplaces,” he said. “And lately, churches, synagogues and temples.”

Local officials want to be prepared to deal with such situations.

In Herbes’ training, “victims” were scattered throughout the building, in hallways and rooms formerly used to treat patients. The “bad guys” — officers in training at the state academy and armed with the same automatic rifles and pistols as the men they were trying to keep at bay — held hostages in closets, kitchens, examination rooms and in corners of the dark, but spacious attic.

The “good guys” had to find and subdue them, secure the scene and attend to the wounded and “dead.”

Ensuring rooms were safe proved to be difficult in a building once used as medical offices.

Long hallways forked to other corridors, and numerous rooms lined each. Some rooms had closets or secondary access points to other rooms — and every nook and cranny had to be searched.

Victims screamed for help. Some pretended to cry. The shaking of some looked genuine. Bullets flew. Shells tinkled to the tile floor. Three children — called “squirters” in the training lingo — dashed by police to escape.

In one scenario, a safety and training official noted, law enforcement found the shooter in a room and failed to announce their presence as they burst through the door: Police!

In another, an officer was backing up another, but his gun was pointed at the ceiling. No one noticed the boy in the corner — nor knew if he was a victim of the shooting or a co-conspirator in the crime.

One officer was criticized for trying to take care of the “injured” shooter instead of leaving him there and helping find the second one.

Read more in Curry Coastal Patrol.

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