CARMEL, Ind. — It has everything included with a real active shooter situation — the sound of gunfire, bystanders screaming and a bad guy with a gun. Except here, the gunfire is coming from a speaker and the victims and shooters are actors.
The training is happening Monday through Thursday this week at Orchard Park Elementary School in Carmel. The building is no longer used as a school, but the Carmel Police Department said a few district staff work there during the school year.
The old elementary school presents a perfect location for Carmel officers to run through several different active shooter situations so they can be prepared as possible if the real thing ever happens.
Carmel Police Lt. Tim Byrne said after the string of mass shootings across the country, he wanted people to know CPD is prepared in case a similar situation happens there.
”People want to know that their police departments, their first responders, are well prepared to to handle a situation like this,” Byrne said.
When it comes to the initial response, Byrne said officers are trained not to have any hesitation.
”Our officers are given not only the ability, but they are required, to respond immediately and directly to the threat,” he said.
Every Carmel officer is taking part in the training this week. Single officers or teams are thrown into several different scenarios with very little information ahead of time.
”It replicates exactly what you might be feeling in the real moment,” said Sgt. Ben Fisher, the training supervisor for CPD. “The hesitations that you might feel, that you have to fight those hesitations to continue pushing through in order to go address the threat.”
For the exercises, officers use simunition rounds, similar to paint balls, and the gear they would be wearing for the real active shooter situation.
”We’ll get fire coming at the officer, as well as fire going toward the bad guy, potentially, because that’s as real as we can make it,” Fisher said.
On top of practicing the on-the-ground movements, officers also work on communication with others inside and those outside of the building.
”We just need to know how to communicate with one another and how we are taking in the whole picture to see who the police officers are and who is the threat,” Fisher said.
Carmel police have been doing active shooter training since 2001. Through the years, officers have seen the training evolve to what works best. In the past few years, Byrne said they have begun to focus more on treating victims as quickly as possible.
”The faster we can get in there and start rendering aid to those folks the better chance of survival they have,” Byrne said.
As officers train for these situations, Byrne said it’s important for the everyday person to be ready for the possibility of an active shooter situation.
”It happens at hospitals, airports, nightclubs, schools, businesses,” Byrne said. “It could happen anywhere, it could literally happen anywhere.”
To prepare, Byrne recommends the information and videos on the FBI website. Videos there explain strategies like “Run, Hide, Fight” and how knowing basic CPR can help people survive an active shooter.