MUSCATINE, Iowa – A scenario seen too often was played out at Muscatine High School Tuesday as the Muscatine Police Department, Muscatine Fire Department, and Muscatine County Sheriff’s Department combined forces for an Active Shooter Training session. Each department has been training for months in smaller groups but Tuesday was the first day that all the elements were brought together.
Captain Steve Snider of the Muscatine Police Department coordinated the exercise along with Captain Gary Ronzheimer of the Muscatine Fire Department.
One of the reasons for the training was to utilize a new procedure that incorporates firemen/EMS with police officers to form a Rescue Task Force (RTF).
“We learned from tragedies such as Columbine that the quicker we can get paramedics to the injured, the better their chances for survival,” Ronzheimer said. “In the past the firemen/EMS had to wait until the building was secure before moving in to treat the injured. Many bled to death because of the delay.”
Utilizing strategies learned from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, and fine-tuned in more recent mass shootings such as San Bernardino, the RTF is a unique combination of police and firemen/EMS that allows the paramedics earlier access to the wounded.
“It is important that the police officers stay one in front and one behind the rescue personnel,” Snider told the trainees during a break between Phase One and Phase Two. “They are the cover which allows the paramedics into an active situation.”
Phase One was the initial training operation that marked the first time that the diverse group of players teamed up together. Phase Two commenced after a break to discuss the results of Phase One. Both of these phases featured an active shooter inside the school building with police officers entering first to locate the shooter. The RTF teams were called in to treat victims as areas were cleared.
Phase Three was the final training session of the day and involved UnityPoint Health-Trinity as the “injured” were transported to the hospital for treatment.
“This new concept is designed to get medical treatment to victims of an active shooter more rapidly than our traditional method,” Ronzheimer said. “We also worked with surrounding first responder agencies because they would likely assist us or vice versa if that would happen.”
Ronzheimer noted that training together is important in developing trust and being ready to move into action quickly.
“This is something that we have to train for but hope we never have to utilize,” Ronzheimer said. “It was good experience working in coordination with the police and learning how we can better handle these types of situations.”
Students, faculty, and staff volunteered to be the victims and were rewarded with pizza donated by Salvatore’s Italian Ristorante.