CLINTON — Multiple law enforcement agencies on Thursday completed the last day of a three day training exercise aimed at improving law enforcement response in critical situations.
Agencies from Clinton, Camanche and Fulton, Illinois, participated in Rescue Force Task training, a three day training exercise. The training included the Clinton Police Department, Clinton Fire Department, Camanche Police Department, Camanche Fire Department, Fulton Police Department and Fulton Fire Department. The training, which was done for the first time, was first discussed among Clinton Police Chief Kevin Gyrion and Clinton Fire Chief Mike Brown to involve multiple agencies for a training to help prepare the agencies should a critical situation arise.
“We hope we never have an incident of that type of nature in this community but if anything ever does happen that we’re prepared for it,” Clinton Police Department Special Operation Commander Bill Greenwalt said. “We work together regularly with all agencies on different types of training. Our tactical team is comprised of officers from all the surrounding areas including Illinois. As for incorporating the fire department and paramedics and other fire departments incorporated in the training, yes this would be the first time that we’ve had official organized training of this magnitude.”
The training was conducted at Clinton High School. Clinton County Emergency Management was involved in the planning of the training.
“Obviously the children of the community are near and dear to everybody’s hearts,” Greenwalt said. “It’s a great opportunity without the kids being in school for us to actually use a building that is a structure that hopefully we never have to go in and do anything like this, but if we ever did, we’re training in a place that we may have to go into.”
Greenwalt said the strategy for law enforcement in responding to critical incidents or active shooters has changed over the years. Law enforcement used to wait to enter until they secured a team of six officers. As they realized people’s lives could be in jeopardy if they wait to enter, the strategy changed.
“The training evolved into as soon as you get on scene, that’s unfortunately part of law enforcement’s job is you have to go in and stop that active killing or shooting and so officers can no longer wait for teams of five or six officers to go,” Greenwalt said. “Since that evolved, we then learned that it’s just as important to not only go in and stop that active threat that we also have to get in as fast as we can with paramedics to get those that may be injured or hurt treated as fast as we can, so we don’t have injured or severely injured people inside of a violent active shooter situation that could be treated, but because of our practices, we don’t get medical staff in there quick enough to save them or prevent the loss of life.”
Clinton Fire Department Battalion Chief Joel Atkinson said the training is beneficial in getting all the different departments working together to prepare for a critical incident or active shooter situation. He added the change in entering a critical incident situation sooner makes it imperative for the various departments to work together more frequently.