North Dakota teachers, law enforcement and first responders form response to school shootings


UNDERWOOD, ND (KFYR) – School shootings are no longer rare and isolated incidents in the United States, so law enforcement, emergency responders and schools are training to respond to the chaos that an event like this can cause. At Underwood School, law enforcement, emergency responders and actors came together to keep communities safe.

Mayhem inside Underwood School on Wednesday… but that’s just comedy. The high stress scene is for law enforcement and first responder training. The scenario: an active school shooter and the resulting chaos.

“We try to make it as realistic as possible. You know, because you focus on the training mode and take it for the realism you want, you can get a lot out of it,” said McLean County Sheriff’s Department Support Services Commander Lt. Rick Richard. .

The “victims” of the storyline are real Underwood students and teachers.

“I am a wounded teacher. I have a leg injury. We have some with gunshot wounds. We walk around the school trying to get the attention of the cops,” said Nicole Heinitz, sixth-grade teacher and participating actress.

The actors received details of their injuries that had not previously been disclosed to responders. Most of them have never done anything like this before.

“It’s a more intensive and hands-on activity,” Heinitz said.

But law enforcement and first responders use these realistic scenarios whenever possible. Different departments work together to help the “victims”. They say this training is especially important in smaller communities.

“Especially in a small town, there are a lot of EMS and firefighters who have full-time jobs. And when you have more than two or three casualties, our staff, usually, are short-staffed, so we have to call other departments in surrounding areas,” said Brianna Robinson, Underwood Elementary clerk/chief of staff. EMT team for Underwood Ambulance.

Actors say they also learn from the experience.

“This training is going to be really helpful for staff and students and also for us as teachers to talk to those students about what to do if something like this happens so that everyone is much calmer if a situation like this were to arise. “, Heinitz said.

As the storyline draws to a close and the “victims” are transported, it’s time to assess the response.

“I think they went there with a serious approach which he should have. And I think everything went admirably well from my point of view. Of course, we will point out things that we could do better, but it’s all the time, and we strive for the continuous process of perfection,” Lt. Richard said.

Plans are in place to continue these simulations in schools across the district.

The training was funded by a grant from the US Department of Homeland Security. It was published by the ND Department of Emergency Services and implemented by the McLean County Office of Emergency Management.

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