RIO GRANDE — Bullets rang out, victims were scattered about Wood Hall and law enforcement officers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, University of Rio Grande Police Department, Rio Grande Police Department, Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and Gallipolis Police Department worked together to control the scene Wednesday at the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College.
Or so it appeared.
The bullets? Simunitions. Rounds designed for realistic and non-lethal force-on-force training.
The blood and injuries? Moulage kits. Hollywood-caliber makeup designed for casualty simulation.
The law enforcement officers? Real. Participants in an eight-hour Active Shooter Training course put on by Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Special Response Team.
“You can study all the tactical training you want, but until you actually experience it live, you just don’t know,” SRT Sergeant Brandon Cruz said. “When the adrenaline is flowing, bullets are flying, you see bodies on the ground and your heart rate goes up, it becomes a totally different experience.
“The main purpose is to give the local law enforcement who would be the first responders the tactics and training we have developed from the best practices nationally,” Cruz continued. “That way they can go back to their departments and train all their people; kind of a train the trainer type of class.”
Thursday’s Active Shooter Training is one of four free programs the Ohio State Highway Patrol offers on request. They offer a four-hour Direct to Threat, Building Security Assessment and a Field Training Exercise — an all-encompassing, multi-agency active shooter scenario.
Cruz said the training programs were first initiated after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting that resulted in 33 deaths.
Such training is not new for Rio Grande, which has hosted similar exercises in the past.
“We’re always concerned about the safety of our students, faculty and staff, and what could happen because of what we’ve seen and read in various publications over the years,” Executive Vice President Paul Harrison said. “Hopefully we will never have an incident, but if we do have an active shooter, we will be prepared to handle it properly because of training like this.”
The Active Shooter Training began at 8 a.m. in Bob Evans Farms Hall, where the law enforcement officers took in a PowerPoint presentation regarding tactical training and medical response. The rest of the morning included various classroom-style training sessions.
The afternoon’s activities began with staging at 1 p.m. that included makeup to turn 12 university faculty and staff members into life-like victims. The live scenarios that followed ranged from active shooter engagement in different locations with various obstacles to hostage situations.
“Active shooter training is something you hope to never need, but you absolutely have to be prepared for any scenario,” URG Police Chief Scott Borden said. “I can’t thank the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Special Response Team enough. This training was fantastic. These tactics are tried and true from national experts, and it was a first-class training from start to finish.”
For more information about the University of Rio Grande / Rio Grande Community College visit rio.edu or call 800-282-7201.