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Front Page » June 7, 2005 » Local News » EHS Drama Department Helps Train Deputies
Published 4,275 days ago

EHS Drama Department Helps Train Deputies

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Shala Pitchforth portrays a victim.

The Emery High Drama Department put the Emery County Sheriff's Office through a very realistic incident scenario recently at Emery High. The entire school was the site of a huge crime scene used for training in case of a shooting incident at the school or any other public building. The students wore very realistic makeup and gunshot wounds were simulated. The group of deputies, sergeants and doctors were divided into three response teams.

The first team swept through the building on information received from students that the pretend shooters were in the auditorium area of the school. The second team did a more thorough assessment of the students in performing triage and formulating a plan for the best way to remove students safely from the building. A team of doctors accompanied the third team who began immediate first aid on students.

The scenario became more realistic through the complete darkness of the school and the smoke makers which made things very difficult to see. The simulated loss of power was due to an explosive device. As the deputies went through the building, things became even more difficult because the pretend shooters had rigged boobytraps along the way which became the pitfall of Deputy Greg Funk as he was lost when he turned over a body which had been rigged.

The team started up the stairs of the auditorium which led to the top of the stage area. In doing so, they checked a room, but not thoroughly enough because the pretend shooter came out behind them and began firing, wounding a deputy. At this point the shooter was taken out by a sharpshooter. The other shooter was also discovered and shot at the scene. The five flights of stairs led to an area at the top where pretend hostages were taken and held.

Deputy Dusty Butler prepares to enter the school.

The deputies completed the rescue of the hostages without further incident. The deputies secured the crime scene so the detectives could come in and take pictures for the investigation. The teams were also in close radio contact with the incident commanders, Capt. Kyle Ekker and Sheriff Lamar Guymon documented the incident from outside of the school. By listening to the reports on the radios they kept track of what was going on inside the building and would call the appropriate emergency response vehicles to the scene. They would also be responsible for contacting the Castleview Hospital and Emery Medical Center to keep them posted on the type and number of injuries they could expect into their facilities in an actual emergency.

After the training scenario completed the group gathered in the lunchroom to answer questions from the students and to evaluate the performance of the teams.

The group said that walking past the injured kids was hard for them. Sheriff Guymon said that situations like this are very serious and the better trained the sheriff's office is will help everyone.

Practices of these types are to train for situations, you hope will never happen, but instincts will take over in these situations and what you've practiced will be the way you handle these highly stressful situations.

In a real crime situation, the students would be frisked for weapons as the search teams moved through.

Lacey Harward, student, said, "It felt so real, that was the scary part, when we were up there with all that screaming."

Lex Black administers first aid to a mock victim.

Neal Peacock said his students studied some shooting situations to put together the training scenario for the deputies. Some areas which need to be strengthened included the communication between those in the building and those waiting outside. Those outside would be concerned with transporting injured as well as getting witness statements. Sgt. Tom Harrison said, "We did right in maintaining our focus in getting to the shooters, we didn't waste any time." The first team going in passed up doors and bodies in their rush to find the shooters which means they passed up possible threats.

Deputy John Barnett said he thought everything went good, but there was a lot of confusion. Sheriff Guymon said any situation of this type will be very confusing and they will be accused of handling things wrong and take much criticism from parents and the media in general. Sheriff Guymon stressed the need for the contact with dispatch to be a thorough and accurate record of the proceedings of an event.

They emphasized talking slowly and deliberately into the radios to enhance communication. The doctors involved were concerned with the injured and how to get them out quickly and effectively. They wondered if they should begin IV therapy immediately for more severely injured people. Transportation of the injured in this type of situation will be a problem, especially if the area is not cleared. The need for someone to be the medical commander was discussed and that person would call the medical helicopter and determine the number of ambulances needed.

The doctors involved in the training exercise are members of the Emery County Sheriff's Tactical Incident Entry Team and have have been to extensive firearms training at Gunsite, Ariz. and also to several trainings with the Emery County Sheriff's Office. They have been certified to carry weapons in these types of situations. Sheriff Guymon said, "These doctors participate as volunteers and donate their time and talent to our team. Emery County is very fortunate to be one of the few entry teams in the state to have doctors on their team."

The doctors admitted to being very disoriented and turned around in the school, this being their first time in the building. One suggestion was to tag the walls with paint to mark the route that the teams follow in the building. The school also has a layout and the teams will study the layouts of various buildings in the county to become familiar with them. The doctors also suggested kits for the deputies with emergency medical supplies which would be carried in the same pocket on everyone to be used to treat yourself in an emergency.

Dr. David Nichols and Dr. Max Morgan prepare to enter the building to treat the mock victims in the training exercise. The doctors on the team have been involved in many firearms training activities.

The emergency response team will have training in the future and the next scenario will involve a meth lab.

The high school has surveillance cameras in the school which can also be hooked to the sheriff's office dispatch so the dispatch can be aware of what's going on in the school. A deputy with a radio could also be placed in the surveillance room at the school and radio directions to the response teams as they enter and move about in the school.

Sheriff Guymon said, "We feel very good about this training. We hope to never have to use it. There is no glory in such a shooting. No glory in the taking of innocent lives. It is our job to protect the public the best we can. We need to be informed of any criminal activities or threats being made in the communities. It is our job to investigate these things and make sure they are taken seriously. If you are an individual with anger towards others, you need to seek help and counseling for your problems. We work to keep our communities safe and with the help of all the citizens we can be successful in doing that."

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