Organizers said around 100 people went through this year’s Active Attack Integrated Response Training.
MUNCIE, Ind. — Inside the halls of Muncie’s Northside Middle School, local law enforcement geared up for training.
This, however, was not typical training.
This was a nationwide program called Active Attack Integrated Response Training.
Sgt. Anthony Hurst with the Ball State University Police Department is one of the certified instructors.
“We face this, maybe not a school shooter scene in a school, but we face the evil every day,” said Hurst. “So for us, it’s a little bit more real.”
Hurst is one of the instructors responsible for teaching and implementing this training for all public safety agencies in Delaware County.
“If we can help get officers and EMS and first responders to experience that here, should that day ever come, hopefully they have already experienced it in some realm that they can kind of think about it,” said Hurst.
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Hurst said the training starts in with a sit-down session to review response and communication plans.
“We even break it down as far as to say, ‘As a law enforcement officer, chances are you are going to be the first one on scene,'” Hurst said. “So once you get in and the threat is no longer there, what can we do to start saving lives?”
Then it is time to go inside. Chief Jim Duckham said volunteer victims make the simulation even more realistic.
“The training was good for a 30-year police veteran to an officer that hasn’t even gone to the police yet,” said Duckham. “It’s just really learning the basics of law enforcement.”
Duckham said the training incorporates more than just police. It also includes EMS, fire and other local public safety agencies.
“Getting an understanding of what each other’s roles will be, I think is really helpful for the entire response,” said Duckham.
Hurst said another critical unit of AAIR training is local dispatch.
“We are giving them simulated calls,” said Hurst. “We are allowing them to take radio traffic as we are dealing with things that are happening, and we’ve also got people who are calling the dispatchers while they are trying to monitor our traffic as well, because we all know, as soon as something happens, those phones are going to start going off.”
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This is a training program that organizers say they pray they never have to use.
“I am a father of a five-and-a-half-year-old daughter who is getting ready to start kindergarten in August. Being on this side of it and understanding the realism and the viability of something like this, definitely rests uneasy in the back of your mind,” said Hurst.
Organizers describe this training as an “emotion and adrenalin dump.”
“It’s sad, actually,” said Duckham. “That’s the way you have to look at it, but we have to be prepared. You have to kind of take the emotion out of it, and you have to be prepared to respond and to do your job.”
“It makes you uneasy,” Hurst said, “but again, going back to understanding the realism and understanding the viability of something like this actually happening, being able to practice it gives you a little bit of confidence in knowing that should that day ever come, you, the other people you work with, the other agencies around our area, we’ve had some form of training in that.”
Duckham said UPD conducts this kind of training year-round, but AAIR Training is usually hosted once a year. Organizers said around 100 people went through this year’s training.
“Ultimately, our job, day in and day out is to provide a safety net of sorts to the public that entrusts us to serve them,” said Hurst.
“We are trained,” said Duckham. “We are ready. We are capable. Your children are in good hands with the Ball State Police Department.”