Mid-South homeland security training - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Mid-South homeland security training

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

The screams are chilling, but it's just part of the training exercise.
FOX13 News was given rare insight as to how law enforcement would deal with terrorist threats in the Mid-South. Area police departments and the Shelby County Sheriff's Office said they are prepared.
But how would they deal with what they call "an active shooter?"

It's an intense training program where officers and deputies from all over our region work together to learn how to take down a mass gunman. Organizers say it has to be realistic as they're training for the worst case scenario.

They call it active shooter training. It's a realistic scenario meant to push the participants -- actors in makeup confront the officers. The officers have to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys.

"We want them to get off the street, run them through this intense training, kind of get them accustomed to if this happens that they will work very diligently to stop it," said Lt. Perry McEwen, SCSO's Division of Homeland Security.

After each scenario training officers debrief the participants, tell them what went right, what went wrong.

More than 1,400 people have gone through this training over the last four weeks. The sheriff and Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong called for the training after the shootings in Colorado and Connecticut in 2012.

"We're just trying to prepare the officers for the possibility of that happening," Lt. McEwen said. "We don't want to not be prepared for that in case it does happen here in Memphis and Shelby County. So that's why we're trying to get these officers through as close to realistic training as we possibly can."

The training program is also integrating fire and rescue crews. They want to cut down the time it takes to get medical care to the injured.

After officers clear the area and get the gunman, they move quickly to bring in the firefighters and EMTs. The officers learn to help with the triage.

Memphis Fire Department Medical Director Joe Holley says this type of coordination will help in any incident.

"The principals are pretty much the same whether this is a bomb blast, whether this is a weather event a tornado or whatever the coordinated response from all the different agencies is important," Holley added.

The training is stressful. If this happens while they're on patrol they'll be the first ones through the door.

"Our main goal is to try to train as many officers as we can in this type of high stress environment," Lt. McEwen said.

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