Area law enforcement agencies participate in active shooter trai - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Area law enforcement agencies participate in active shooter training

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KENNEWICK, WA - It's unfortunate to say that mass shootings have become almost a part of our daily lives. They happen so often that law enforcement agencies hold special training days to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Today, reporter Jaclyn Selesky got the chance to see how our area police departments worked together in an active shooter training.

They happen in nightclubs, concert venues, and shopping malls...it's a sad truth, but mass shootings are more common than we would like to think. This is why our law enforcement agencies from around the region came together for a simulated active shooter training.

Today was all about communication.

"The biggest obstacles that we find is just streamlining communication, because when you're entering a large complex like here at the Toyota Center, we don't exactly know where the other units are," said Deputy J.P. Benitez with the Benton County Sheriff's Office.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office, West Richland PD, Prosser PD, and Benton County Fire District #1 worked through several scenarios today to fine-tune the skills needed in a mass casualty situation. Of course, every venue and scenario has to be handled in its own way, which is why our law enforcement trains year-round.

"When we're dealing in an arena-type of situation you have a large open space with a lot of crevices to hide," Deputy Benitez said. "So this training here today will give our officers an opportunity to implement search techniques and patterns to effectively control the scene as quickly as possible."

They come across different obstacles and potential problems that they wouldn't know of until they're put right in the middle of an active situation.

"Get officers and the firefighters on board, same page, understanding what each other's roles are and how to actually effectively support each other's primary duties. That's so huge."

At the end of the day, there's one common end goal: to keep our community safe.

"The public's lives are most important for our department. Well for anyone police officer. You get into this job to help out," said Deputy Benitez.

There's also been a few changes in protocol when it comes to responding to an active shooter situation. Police aren't the only ones allowed on the scene.

First responders can now work with police to be escorted through what they call "hot zones." Jaclyn Selesky found out why things are changing.

In any mass casualty situation, the area would typically be closed off to only tactical, SWAT, or police agencies. Unfortunately, in most of these situations, victims are inside with life-threatening injuries. In the past, law enforcement would get to the scene and secure the facility before the paramedics could come in. But now, they realize it takes an entire team of trained professionals to save as many lives as possible.

"When it comes to a mass casualty situation, unfortunately that might not be an option any longer," Deputy Benitez said. "People are hurt, bleeding, or injured. We need to address those folds immediately. So now training with the fire departments, EMTs, paramedics, we're incorporating them into our entry teams in order to address the injured while we're working on neutralizing any potential threats inside of the facility."

The EMS or paramedics' response is much different than SWAT or police, so addressing threats and attending to injured people at the same time is the most effective way to ensure everyone's safety.

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