GREENBRIER — An Active Shooter Training Exercise will descend on Greenbrier High School and its Fine Arts auditorium Friday.
School personnel acting as actors, Arkansas State Troopers, Faulkner County Sheriff Deputies, Greenbrier Police, Arkansas Highway Patrol Officers and Arkansas Game and Fish Deputies will participate. MEMS Ambulance Service will also respond to this staged exercise.
Two training sessions will be held at 8:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. before the exercise takes place to find “bad guys” that might be invading schools or other city locations. More than 50 cars from numerous law enforcement agencies will respond to Greenbrier during Friday’s exercise as if a real event was happening.
Captain Keith Eremea of the Arkansas State Police is coordinating this exercise in cooperation with Superintendent Scott Spainhour of the Greenbrier School District in order to discover what will work and what might not work in case of a real, live situation in Greenbrier schools. The schools are still closed for their holiday break. No children are attending until Monday.
“It’s better we know what works and what does not before a real event might happen as it did in Newtown recently,” said Eremea.
About 20 first responders will train in each session, along with about 10 other personnel who will act as students, teachers, parents, and “bad guys.” Every police and rescue agency who could hear a possible call has been invited to participate, and Eremea said the response to the invitation has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Troopers will be coming from as far away as Carlisle and Clinton, and as close as our own Greenbrier police,” said Eremea. They will be timed as to how long it takes the first responders to arrive at the high school where a 60-foot communication vehicle will be set up to coordinate and monitor the exercise.
After a 45 minute training period, the exercise will begin with all personnel wearing protective gear and acting out their parts as if a full-scale invasion were occurring. All live ammunitions and guns will be taken away and stored in car trunks. Officers will be issued Simunitions to shoot with. Simunition is training ammunition that can use wax cartridges and marking devices much like paint ball games and can simulate full recoil for much more realistic training.
“Part of the training will simulate a faculty member or student that is shot,” Eremea said. “Our first responders must get on their radios to talk through the injured person’s condition, find out where the shooter is, and decide the priority of saving one injured person’s life, and how, or finding and bringing the shooter down in order to save a lot of other lives. We hope to also determine what other resources we might need to protect an injured child.”
Spainhour has volunteered the use of the school’s camera system to help locate people in halls or classrooms. First responders will have to determine if a person in a red coat, for example, is a shooter or someone to protect and find him within the building.
The afternoon session may bring in the Arkansas State Police helicopter if the weather permits. This helicopter is equipped with four infrared lights to determine body temperature to find a subject running outside. It also has a video camera that can be used to track a suspect from the air.
“It’s hard to bring in troopers from around the state for training because of payroll costs, equipment, and security issues; but every agency involved thought it was worth it at this time,” Eremea said. “We talked about waiting until Spring break when the kids were out of school again, but everyone felt like it was better sooner, than later. We’re going to see what we do wrong and what we do right and hope everyone gets something out of it so we can save even one kids’ life. Our kids are our future, and we need to protect them best we can.”