Platte County High School theatre students found a way to share their talents in the name of emergency preparedness.
The Platte County Sheriff’s Office held its first active shooter training course at the Platte County Courthouse on Friday, May 12. While the realistic drills are meant to teach law enforcement on how to respond to an active shooter call, it is also for all employees or visitors to the courthouse who happen to be caught in that kind of situation.
Officials closed the Platte County courthouse and surrounded the building with police training signs in order to safely conduct the exercises.
A handful of Platte County’s drama students took part in the drill as actors, while they did not exactly know what to expect from the experience, they still learned about the proper ways to respond.
“It has definitely opened my eyes to all the different possibilities in what to do and what not to do whenever you’re in a situation like that,” Platte County student Luke Hodson said.
Capt. Chad Phillips of the Platte County Sheriff’s Office said that having the students involved went very well for both the kids and the deputies.
“It’s nice because a lot of times we’ll use role players that have been through the training before so they’re not quite as scared about it as they were in the beginning,” Phillips said. “But when you bring kids in then they don’t know what to expect and you really get the feel for how scared they are and they did great.
“You can definitely tell they’re drama students.”
Responders from Northland Regional Ambulance District also took part in the exercise in order for the deputies and the responders to practice finding potential victims in a shooting.
Instructors from the Platte County Sheriff’s Defense and Firearms training unit led the drill while both experienced and new deputies acted out the scenarios that were presented to them. Three separate scenarios were carried out to help the employees and the deputies recognize and locate the sounds of gunfire in the building and to act accordingly.
A video made by the Department of Homeland Security was shown to all who participated in the drill that says that if someone is caught in a real-world shooter situation to run, hide or fight in order to survive. While this is the first time a drill like this has been carried out at the courthouse, the Platte County Sheriff’s Office is in charge of performing the same kind of drills at schools within Platte County.
“The law requires them to go through scenario-based drills every year, and we rotate through helping the different districts,” Maj. Erik Holland of the sheriff’s office said. “The dynamic that is different there is the teacher is also responsible for all the kids.”
Some of the key differences that were learned from running these scenarios at the schools and now at the courthouse was the use of rally points to meet up outside. The schools utilize this technique already in many of their drills.
However, the courthouse does not incorporate this plan but might in the future after taking part in this exercise.
“Another thing we noticed today that was a little bit different was the teachers usually seem to be more kind-hearted,” Phillips said, “and typically we’ll do the training, and they’ll let those individuals into the room when they shouldn’t. What we learned today was that the people employed here are not that nice, and they wouldn’t let them in so they did what they were supposed to do.”
Now the active shooter training will most likely be an annual drill for the sheriff’s office and the courthouse employees to practice their response to the situation.
“We’ll train anybody that is wanting to learn it,” Phillips said. “It’s going to benefit everyone in the event that this actually happens.”