Training day

Calhoun Co. law enforcement trains for active shooter situation

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Deputies Jeff Feldhans, front, Jason McKenney and Kelly Moritz, with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department, prepare to rescue a hostage during an active shooter training simulation at the Iowa Central William G. Smith Simulation Center Wednesday.

Law enforcement officers from Calhoun County got to experience a realistic training simulation Wednesday as they took part in active shooter training at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center.

The training was held at the William G. Smith Simulation Center, which is run by Iowa Central Community College.

Calhoun County Sheriff Scott Anderson is an instructor in the program and he decided to invite not only his deputies, but law enforcement from several Calhoun County towns to Fort Dodge to take part.

Among the agencies included were the Manson, Rockwell City, Lake City and Pomeroy police departments.

Anderson described the training at the center as being very realistic, down to the smells that were sprayed in the simulation.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Calhoun County Sheriff’s Deputies Jason McKenney, left, and Kelly Moritz clear the area before tending to Cassandra Roest, bottom, who played a shooting victim during an active shooter training Tuesday at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center.

“They included even burnt flesh smells,” he said.

The officers went through three different scenarios. In one, a hospital worker was shot and another taken hostage by a single shooter. In another, a doctor was taken hostage; and in the third scenario, officers had to respond to a school shooting.

Not only were the officers trained on how to take down the shooter, but they were also trained in how to treat any victims and to provide enough treatment to keep them stable until medical personnel could get to the scene.

For each scenario, the training center was redecorated to make it look more like the situation the officers would encounter.

Anderson portrayed the shooter, while simulation center employees played the victims.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
In a demonstration, Calhoun County Sheriff Scott Anderson, right, takes Heather Olberding hostage. Anderson portrayed the shooter in an active shooter training Wednesday at the Iowa Central William G. Smith Simulation Center. Olberding works for the center.

Using real-life people playing the victims is more accurate than using a dummy or a mannequin, Anderson added, because a real person would be reacting to the scene. A dummy wouldn’t.

It’s also tailor-made to what each law enforcement agency wants.

“I tell them what I want and they set it up,” Anderson said. “And they tell me what they set up and I say, ‘Yeah I like this’ or ‘No I don’t like that,’ and they make any changes.”

Other training programs offer generic training, but Anderson said that’s not beneficial to what Calhoun County needs.

“That’s not realistic training for us,” he said. “We need to know what works for us and they set it up.”

Julie Mertens, the assistant coordinator of the simulation center, said Wednesday was the first time any law enforcement agency utilized it for training.

Usually it’s people involved in the medical field, such as nurses, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and others.

“And than we also provide training for outside agencies,” she said, including rescuers from Gowrie, who have trained at the simulation center about four times.

Anderson said he would recommend the simulation center to all law enforcemeng agencies. In fact, he’s already signed up for quarterly training with the officers in Calhoun County.

“If we never train, we would never know what we were doing,” he said. “That’s why we’re using these simulated smells. When they hit this door, I want them to smell gunpowder. I want them to know what that is. I don’t want them to freeze up.”