Hamilton County first responders spend week training for active shooter situations

FISHERS, Ind. – Hamilton County first responders are coming together this week to train for active shooter situations.

More than 240 first responders from multiple agencies in Hamilton County have spent most of the week engaged in training sessions on how to respond in unison to an active assailant. The sessions are part of a three-year effort to coordinate emergency response training.

“So if we’re all on the same page and everybody is moving in the right direction together, in unison, then it takes a lot of surprises out of what we have to experience,” Fishers Fire Department Captain John Mehling said.

Part of the issue with active shooters or active assailants is that the influx of first responders from multiple agencies often respond. While law enforcement and emergency response professionals say the help is much appreciated, it can also be overwhelming trying to coordinate tasks for dozens of responders. By training together, the Hamilton County first responders believe they can help avoid such situations.

“When this call goes out every cop, every firefighter they want to be there, they want to help. So they are going to respond. And so not only do we have to prepare for the initial response, but we also have to prepare for how to manage all these different professionals,” Fishers Police Sargent Tom Weger said.

To help prepare for every eventuality, officials say the simulations responders go through are kept as life-like as possible. Civilian volunteers portray injured victims and “casualties” to give each scenario its own dynamics. During the simulations volunteers scream, run around, and ask responders for help.

While the training sessions have been planned for years, officials say incidents like the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School helped to push the importance of a coordinated response to the forefront.

“As we’ve seen here in Hamilton County, it can happen here. And it can happen here again. And we want to make sure that we’re all working together to make sure that if it’s a larger incident, if we have more victims that we can get in quicker and we can get those victims out and save more lives,” Mehling said.

The training sessions will conclude at the end of the week.