Texas State's ALERRT Center is taking part in the national conversation on school safety. This, after the mass shooting that killed mostly children in Newtown, Connecticut. The ALERRT Center is also adding a new component to training.
"Be advised, suspect has multiple weapons, including long range and rifle."
December 14th, 2012 police, fire, and ems arrived at one of most devastating mass shootings ever.
"EMS rescue and fire 44 to respond 12 Dickerson Drive Sandy Hook School."
Twenty children died, along with six adults. Any emergency is chaotic. Newtown was no different.
"A2 is going to scene as requested by police department. Which one of you EMS is preceding into the scene? A2 or A3? A2, A3 wants to know if they should go in also. Police have not requested your arrival at that scene. 92 is working on it. We need buses here."
Radio traffic highlights the confusion among officers.
"Make sure you connect with the commanding officer on scene just to make sure the areas you are going in are secure. Alright who is the commanding officer here?"
"That is one of our weaknesses in law enforcement. For some reason, we have never been able to grasp the instant command system that has been done so well by the fire services and EMS services," said Terry Nichols.
That's why Nichols says they are adding new training at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, or ALERRT, Center. Teaching officers how to better set up command posts.
"We train to get in the door fast and solve the problems and stop the killing. That's priority number one. Two is stop the dying. We get the medical piece to the cops. Now we need to do an interface. Ok, cops we've stopped the killing, we started the initial medical treatment, now EMS and fire are here, how can we all work together to solve this problem," Nichols said.
Like these officers, thousands of law enforcement members from around the country have been through the ALERRT Center's active shooting training. Taking first responders through different scenarios. This one has two gunmen, one hiding with the fleeing crowd.
The scenario is similar to what happened at lone star college near Houston in January. Two suspects fired off shots but one was able to escape with the crowd.
Since the Newtown shootings, requests for ALERRT training have tripled. More than 250 requests within the state and about 100 nationwide. The assistant ALERRT director also says they are taking part in shaping a national tragedy on school violence.
"Our role is training law enforcement, that's what we do and that's what has always been done but we're being brought in at the highest level of federal government, what is the national strategy that we're going to do to help mitigate any future Sandy Hooks," Nichols said.
Lawmakers are also talking about school safety, in particular, arming teachers. But until they decide the best way to protect our students, Nichols says, any action is better than nothing during an active shooter situation whether at school or at a mall. Remember A.D.D....avoid, deny and defend.
"First thing to do is to get out. Second, if you can't get out, deny access. Barricade the doors. You're starting to see more of that going on. Finally, defend yourself. A fire extinguisher, pencil, pair of scissors, books, prepare to defend yourself," Nichols said.
In this instructor level class, these officers are learning how to teach active shooting training. They will train other officers when they return home. Hoping to cut down on deaths, response time, and confusion.
"I have multiple ambulance personnel coming inbound can we create the staging and command area within the Sandy Hook parking area? Negative Newtown, any ambulances coming in will have to stage at Sandy Hook fire house."
Learning lessons now before another mass shooting occurs.
"We have suspect down."
Half of all Texas peace officers have been trained in active shooter situations.