A collection of articles and news coverage about the Government Training Institute delivering the Post Active Shooter - Hostile Event Interdiction - A Unified Response by Law Enforcement, Fire, Rescue and Emergency Medical Services training in Iowa during the summer of 2016. The Government Training Institute was awarded a contract from the Iowa Department of Homeland Security to deliver the training at various counties throughout the state of Iowa. In 2016 there were seven courses delivered to first responders from Law Enfocement, Fire Departments, Emergency Medical Services and other Emergency Management personnel. In 2017 a five year contract was awarded to continue delivering the training which had a title change from Post Active Shooter to Rescue Task Force to fall in line with the nomenclature that was becoming standard in describing this type of training. In all over 500 students in the state of Iowa have been trained in the courses.

Active shooter training preps first responders for aftermath

By Stephen Gruber-Miller Wednesday, August 10, 2016 press-citizen.com

Officers carrying semi-automatic rifles ran through the halls of West High on Wednesday afternoon.

Fortunately, there was no threat: They were running drills as part of a three-day training session in Iowa City this week, one of the first of its kind in Iowa that brings together law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical service providers.

The goal is to train a rescue task force that brings urgent medical care as quickly as possible to victims of mass shootings, like school or mall shootings that have made headlines nationally.

"The last time we had an event like this would have been here at the Coral Ridge Mall shooting or the University of Iowa campus shooting back in the early '90s, so it's not like these happen with great frequency," said Johnson County Emergency Management director Dave Wilson. "So it's really important that we train together."

Local law enforcement trains every year for these situations, Wilson said, but this is the first time police have trained alongside firefighters and emergency medical service providers. In addition to West, training is taking place at North Bend Elementary on Thursday.

While local officials are used to working with each other while responding to fires, car accidents and medical calls, it's different when there's an active threat. Coralville police officer Adam Jennings called the training a great chance to work on communication between police, fire and EMS during a stressful situation.

"These are the folks that we're going to be dealing with when this stuff happens," he said.

Post Active Shooter Training Iowa City Iowa
Law enforcement agents and first responders from around the state gather for a debriefing during an emergency training exercise at West High on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. David Scrivner / Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Personnel from local agencies participated, as did officers from as far as Davenport, for a total of 55 people, Wilson said. The session is one of six that have been held across the state this summer organized by the Government Training Institute.

Dennis O'Connor, an employee with the institute who's helping lead this week's class, said the strategy is aimed at providing the fastest care for the most people. Once law enforcement has dealt with a shooter, responders are trained to set up rescue task forces and gather victims at a casualty collection point, a relatively safe place in a building like a guarded classroom.

From there, some aid is administered to victims, and the rescue task force works to get them to ambulances and other vehicles as quickly as possible.

"After the shooter's been eliminated, we have to put the emphasis on the injured inside. The faster we can get to them, the more lives we're going to save," O'Connor said.

The group spent hours Wednesday afternoon running the drills over and over to make sure participants practiced the skills needed to carry an injured person to safety.

"We find a lot of SWAT team operators get the concepts a little quicker because that's what they train in on a regular basis," O'Connor said. "The first responder, your patrol officers, anybody not in a tactical realm, they don't get that much training in it, so it's a big learning phase for them."

A large shooting, like the one that took place at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in June, can tax local agencies' resources, even in a large city, Wilson said. That's why for Johnson County and Iowa City it's important to be prepared to use all the resources at their disposal.

That might mean putting victims in a police pickup truck or another vehicle because it's the quickest way to get them medical care.

"You're going to run out at some point of transport vehicles, and you're going to have victims that are ready to go that you've got to do something with," Wilson said.


Regional responders practice for after an active shooter.

By Mellaney Moore Wednesday, August 10th 2016 cbs2iowa.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) In Johnson County, emergency responders from around the region are training for an active shooter situation.

The training happened Wednesday at West High School in Iowa City. It takes place after the threat has been neutralized, so that emergency response crews know what to do next.

Experts say in a shooting situation, the first step for law enforcement is to find the shooter and stop them. Then, it's time to gather the injured and get them help.

That's what emergency responders like Tina Humston, captain with the Iowa City Fire Department, are practicing.

"We've learned a lot about moving down a hallway with a tactical team and how to stay safe, how to stay protected from them," she says.

"How do we go in and neutralize the threat is predominantly what we focus on with law enforcement agencies throughout the area, and so now we're bringing in the new components of 'OK after the shooting has stopped, how do we go in and take responders into a warm zone?'" says Johnson County Homeland Security Emergency Management Director Dave Wilson.

The training covers coordinating the rescue task force, safely navigating hallways and room entry.

"They may have to clear that room, or the warm zone that they're traveling in automatically becomes a hot zone, where now they have to go back into a combat mode," says Government Training Institute Training Division Director Dennis O'Connor.

From here, the victims are taken to hospitals. Organizers say West High School presents a good challenge for training because of its size.

"The University of Iowa had a shooting on the campus back in the 90s, we've had shootings at Coral Ridge Mall, so whatever the cause factor is, these things do not know specific boundaries so we have to be prepared for the eventuality of it might very well happen here," says Wilson.

Humston says it's exciting to learn new skills and perspectives, and there is more training to come.

"This is just the beginning of hopefully starting in that direction of being able to handle situations like this in the best possible outcome for the victims," says Humston.

Thursday crews will be staging an entire scenario, running through neutralizing the threat and practicing the training from Wednesday.


Storm Lake Police and Surrounding Agencies Train for an Active Shooter

By Nick Popham Wednesday, August 3rd 2016 siouxlandnews.com

Storm Lake, IA We rarely think a deadly tragedy like the Dallas police shootings, the Orlando nightclub massacre, or the terrorist attack in San Bernardino will happen in our own backyard.

But some local law enforcement officers are preparing for the worst if it ever happens.

With help from the Government Training Institute and Iowa Homeland Security, roughly 40 members of law enforcement and first responders are more prepared if tragedy strikes.

"He's got a gun!" Screamed a volunteer of today's drill in Storm Lake.

The city of Storm Lake wants to be prepared.

That's why for the past three days it's hosted an active shooter training course at Buena Vista University's Smith Hall; to help prepare law enforcement and emergency services throughout Siouxland in case of a tragedy.

"Our philosophy here is we train for the worst and we pray for the best," said Mark Prosser, Storm Lakes Public Safety Director and Police Chief. He said this kind of training is becoming more common.

"Every organization, every law enforcement or first responder agency that I'm aware of, no matter what the size of our community or in our state or in our nation have been training quite a bit over the last many years," Prosser said.

On the final day of this public safety training the scenario was this: law enforcement has already taken down a shooter and needs to make sure there aren't any other potential threats as well as save as many civilians inside the building.

Everyone, including law enforcement and the volunteers that are participating in this training today aren't using real bullets in their guns, but as an extra precaution are required to wear safety goggles.

"In this day and age we don't know where an active shooter event is going to occur so we've got to be proactive and not reactive," Dennis O'Connor, Director of Training at the Government Training Institute, said.

He, as well as two other instructors, came all the way from South Carolina to lead these exercises.

He does this kind of training all across the U.S. and said having every type of resource work together can lead to the best result in dealing with an active shooter.

"We've got to start bringing together our fire, EMS, and law enforcement together to have a working relationship under like an incident command type style," O'Connor said.

One member of Sioux City's Fire and Rescue team made his way out to Storm Lake and said this course has helped all the agencies who've participated.

"We are getting much closer to where we are all well prepared to handle any sort of incident that could occur in this region," said Robert Wilson, a member of Sioux City Fire and Rescue.

Along with doing hands on drills, the instructors held class sessions, as well, to help every agency work as a unit in case something unexpected were to happen.


Post Active Shooter Training: Day One

By Emily Boster KIMT.com, Published: June 27, 2016

MASON CITY, Iowa They're learning how to save your life if someone were to start shooting at your workplace, movie theater or any other spot. Law enforcement, firefighters and EMS crews are training on it. On day one, they're finding out it's not just police who go in.

"There's obviously some amount of reservations due to our lack of personal protective equipment, lack of training going into it," paramedic Ben Shockey with Winneshiek Medical Center said.

Shockey is seeing he can play a vital run when it comes to an active shooter situation. He's someone who may be asked to go inside while the shooter is detained to one place.

"The idea of tactical medics has come up before but never as variable option to my understanding in our local area," Shockey said.

Instructors from the Government Training Institute are in town to teach those like Shockey how to take control of these tragic events. Shockey knows this training could become a reality any day.

"The calls that we've been on, the rate it's happening nationwide. I think the small town of Decorah is unfortunately well suited for an event like this," Shockey said.

That has him listening to those like Mike Morganstern.

"Being from the fire side and being passionate about this, I've gone through active shooter training. I've gone through numerous trainings with our law enforcement partners, getting them to talk to fire, getting fire to talk with law is just a pivotal point in our first responder's arena," Morganstern said.

His goal is to no longer have law enforcement be the ones entering when lives are being lost during a shooting. He wants EMS and firefighters to know they can be a lifeline, too.

"What law wasn't doing and what fire wasn't doing was communicating enough to go down range. We had people die inside buildings that are being searched until it's all clear. Example is Fort Hood. There could have been a lot more loss of life in Fort Hood but because medical personnel being on a military base were there already on scene a lot of lives were spared," Morganstern said.

Over the next three days, these men and women will learn badges aside they took their job in order to save lives.

"We develop policies and procedures, we vet those policies and procedures, we provide training and we provide protective gear to go in," Morganstern said.


Post Active Shooter Training: Day Two

By Emily Boster KIMT.com, Published: June 28, 2016

MASON CITY, Iowa This day's training is a little more real.

"So today personally I'm learning as to how to organize and involve medics with law enforcement and how to properly get them into the scene and utilized," Sgt. Steve Klemas with Mason City police said.

A shooting was simulated for them Tuesday, with Klemas as one of the first to enter. He's checking to make sure no one else is shooting.

"The reason I like it is because I learn and then we can, together, use this information to better the agency," Klemas said.

Klemas then lets rescue teams know they can enter once the scene is cleared.

"Of course classroom learning is always different. It is all PowerPoints, trying to describe things not a lot of hands-on. Hands-on is much better you get in there, you start doing it, start working it, and it comes together for them," said Dennis O'Conner, director of training with Government Training Institute.

He says what they are teaching is new having law enforcement protect EMS when entering a building. Again, they wouldn't go in when the shooter is still shooting, only when the shooter or shooters are detained to an area or down. He hopes to see these tactics used when the time comes.

"To be thinking not only that they have to think for additional shooters, but you're now responsible for protection of fire and EMS with them," O'Conner said.


Post Active Shooter Training: Day Three

By Emily Boster KIMT.com, Published: June 29, 2016

MASON CITY, Iowa It's a situation we hope to never be in, someone actively shooting. So what should you do? It'd be chaotic and hard to think.

"If you were standing in this hallway and the shooter was to come in, running directly down this hallway, straight away, is probably not the best option. The best option is for you to go down the hallway to the left, just turn down that hallway. You're straight out of sight now," Dennis O'Connor said.

O'Connor is the director of training for Government Training Institute. While the focus the past three days has been on teaching law enforcement and firefighters, he also wants to train you.

First up: Follow the run, hide and fight rules.

"When it comes to hiding, place your kids in small areas where they can hide. Could be inside of the closest, be under a desk, under a bed, have them go underneath there. Tell them to remain quiet, don't make any noise," O'Connor said.

If running is no longer an option and you know they're coming ...

"It wouldn't be a good idea to pop my head out or walk out to see what's going on. At that particular time I would probably find a place to hide inside that room," O'Connor explained.

Once you're hidden, that cellphone needs to be silenced.

"If the shooter is in close proximity where they can hear you, you don't want to have it on. Silence your phone, don't have to turn it off," O'Connor said.

It's scary, but O'Connor says your last resort is to fight.

"Don't run straight at them; don't go where it's easy for them to access you. Have some lateral movement. Have the ability to pick up anything, anything you can use as a weapon. If you have to be hands-on, gouge out their eyes, strike to the groin," O'Connor said.

These men and women are training to look out for you, but if you're in the situation first, keeping yourself alive is top priority.

"When law enforcement comes in, stay hidden and don't say anything. You don't know where they're at. They could be in a hallway, be in an adjoining room. Don't make any notifications until the police come in and they announce themselves. Stay hidden until they come to you," O'Connor said.

Once you get out, find police immediately and tell them what you saw and heard.

After going through a couple of scenarios, the roles were switched.

Each firefighter picked up a weapon and got a feel for what it's like to be a police officer. They experienced what it's like to protect their own when going in to save victims.

"It definitely gives you sort of an idea of all the concerns law enforcement has in a protection role while we're doing that job," said Aaron Beemer, a firefighter with Mason City.

Beemer says he feels much more comfortable playing the role of EMS versus police.


Creston Fire Attends Post-Active Shooter Training

By BAILEY POOLMAN CNA staff reporter Creston News, Thursday June 16th, 2016

Not for the first time, news about gun violence and shootings are plastered across television sets and computer screens in attempts to get the word out. The most recent incident in Orlando, Florida, is another example of this.

Post Active Shooter Training Creston Iowa
Clarke County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Akers stands at attention to protect victims and first responders inside a residence hall room during a post-active shooter training held Tuesday through today at Southwestern Community College. Creston and Red Oak fire departments and Montgomery County Sheriff's Office also attended the training held by Government Training Institute, an organization that holds a variety of tactical trainings across the country.

In an attempt to stay relevant, Creston Fire Department participated alongside three other organizations to learn what to do after an incident occurs in order to help those involved. This three-day class was held by Government Training Institute (GTI), an organization based out of South Carolina and focused on training law enforcement, military personnel and other first responders how to react during certain situations.

The class was held at Southwestern Community College from Tuesday to today through a Homeland Security grant.

"Everything that they learn in this class can carry over to other responses, like how to build a response team, how to set up their priorities so that not only are they safe, but also the people that are helping them," said Jo Duckworth, Union County Emergency Management Agency director. "It just helps with overall being prepared and being a professional."

"Unfortunately, active shooter incidents now can occur anywhere. We talked about this in class: we are not immune to them," said Oscar Lizardi, Santa Ana, California, police officer and GTI instructor. "Whether you work in a small town or a large agency like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, they will occur, they can occur, and the expectation for police and fire is the same. Therefore, they should be trained up to the same level as any large-scale agency."

Creston and Red Oak fire departments and Clarke County and Montgomery County sheriff's offices attended the class, which was a post-active shooter training course.

The course focused on what happens after a suspect in a mass casualty event has been contained, and how local law enforcement, fire departments and emergency medical personnel (EMS) can work together to make a chaotic situation less chaotic and save human lives.

"The next priority for law enforcement and first responders is to immediately address the wounded," Lizardi said. "What we've found was, we do a good job in law enforcement to train our personnel to go and be that initial officer or deputy as a contact team going to that threat, but once the threat has been eliminated or contained, there's a huge gap in the relationship between fire and law enforcement. So, we find ourselves kind of chasing our tails in the sense of, what is our next priority?"

Firefighters and EMS won't get close to an incident until law enforcement has cleared it of the threat. However, mass casualty incidents at the national level can take between eight and 10 hours to safely clear, well over the time wounded victims can wait.

Essentially, first responders who are properly trained can quickly go in with a team of armed law enforcement to care for those injured victims. The training, which had fake live victims, allowed both law enforcement and first responders to practice what their roles would be during any mass casualty event, such as a school shooting or tornado.

Though, the most difficult part, Lizardi said, was making sure all agencies responding to an incident communicate properly.

"We work pretty hard on unified command," said Creston Fire Chief Todd Jackson. "While it wasn't with our own police department, we're working unified command with law enforcement. That's been an opportunity for both sides because we haven't had a chance to work with other agencies in the past. So, that's been good."

Jackson, who initially wasn't planning on attending, decided to after learning about low numbers in the class. Since that first day, one thing he's taken away from it is how incidents don't necessarily have to be mass casualty.

"Even the everyday, run-of-the-mill boyfriend-girlfriend fight and a gun is broken out and shot, those are potential problems in our community and so, to be able to coordinate with law enforcement and go in and provide immediate treatment and get those victims out of there to give them a chance of survival, it means life and death," Jackson said.


Local First Responders Train on Post-Active Shooter Situations at SWCC

By KSIB Radio, Wednesday June 15th, 2016

A special 3-day Post-Active Shooter Training class wraps up today at Southwestern Community College. The class focuses on what law enforcement / first responders are to do once arriving at the scene of a post-active shooter situation. 3 agencies from around SW Iowa have been participating in the training class this week, put on by Union County Emergency Management.

Post Active Shooter Training Creston Iowa

Coordinator, Jo Duckworth, talks about how it was brought to Creston. "I belong to, what's called an 'All Regions Board,' which is basically a committee made up of emergency managers across the state that receive grant money to provide training...This is one of the classes that we felt was important to provide to the first responders," Duckworth says.

Duckworth and the committee submitted this class as a recommendation to Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The Department was able to contract for 4 sites in the state of Iowa, and Creston was one of them.

The training is instructed by GTI, Inc. or Government Training Institute, based out of South Carolina.

The head coordinator of this week's class in Creston is Oscar Lizardi. He does contract work with GTI, but is from the Santa Ana Police Department in California. We had a chance to speak with him about the class after a shooting situation was simulated in one of SWCC's dorms Wednesday.

Lizardi says the course is a post-active shooter incident course, which means "Once the suspect(s) have either been contained (taken into custody/fled the area/shot/injured). As soon as that occurs, the next priority for law enforcement, as they respond, is to immediately address the wounded."

Lizardi says this class helps address one of the big challenges first responders face when responding to an urgent situation: a gap in communication between fire and law enforcement. He says, "So we find ourselves, kind of like, chasing our tails in the sense of what is the next priority? 'Do we start searching all these other rooms the rest of the building before we get medical aid inside, or do we get medical aid inside first?' That's a big question, and unless you have some procedures some guidelines and some kind of policy in place, this is going to be a very challenging thing at the time."

Lizardi says now the big question is: How do we treat the victims without the delay? "What we found was we needed to establish guidelines between fire and law enforcement and come to a meeting point. Saying 'we need you to go inside, but at the same time, we will not allow that to be done without security, and without proper communication, training, equipment.' That's what we're doing here."

Most have the perception that mass shooting situations happen in urban parts of the country. While many do, the question remains: why come to Creston and SW Iowa to train responders on this? Lizardi answered, "Because, unfortunately, an active shooter situation incidents now can occur anywhere...We are not immune to them. Whether you work in a small town or large agency like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles. They're going to occur, they can occur, and the expectation of police and fire is the same, and therefore they should be trained up to the same level."

Being from urban Santa Ana, California, Lizardi noted our area faces an additional challenge: limited resources.

Though a challenge, he said it's definitely do-able. "There's no difference we're getting it done and we're handling it the same way as we would with a larger scale agency. The only difference is you see our law enforcement and fire they just have to work smarter, and a little harder that's the only difference," Lizardi says.

Agencies that participated Wednesday included Creston Fire Department, Red Oak Fire, and Deputies from Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and Clarke County Sheriff's Office.