Riley County first responders started three-day-long training exercises yesterday (Tuesday) to help improve response times and interagency coordination in the event of an active violence scenario.

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Members of RCPD, Manhattan Fire Department, Riley County EMS, KSU PD, volunteers, representatives from USD 383 and other law enforcement partners gathered at Anthony Middle School for this year’s training.

Riley County EMS Assistant Director Josh Gering said that this training is extremely valuable and would not be possible without the support of USD 383.

“Riley County is very lucky. We are unique in the state of Kansas by doing this annually and doing it to this level annually… The school district is permitting us to come into the buildings every summer and do this… To allow us to come and do this is super valuable. I hope other school districts take a page out of USD 383’s book here.”

During the exercises, community volunteers acted as the victims and the perpetrator in order to help create a more realistic school shooting scenario.

RCPD Interim Director Kurt Moldrup said that making the scene as realistic as possible is key in preparing personnel for an actual emergency.

“It is critical that they have the high stress and have the reality of victims and everyone yelling at them, telling them what [they want them]to do… I think it puts officers under some real stress which would really happen in real life.”

Manhattan Fire Department Chief Battalion Mark Whitehair explained the overall goals and focus of this week’s events.

“We’re bringing as many crews together as we can to have as realistic training as possible. Really, it’s just integrating all of the agencies we have here all week and continuing to see that progress of rapid response, treatment being good, and the end goal of trying to save as many lives as we can.”

After this week, observations documented during the exercises are used to evaluate each departments’ response and where improvements can be made.

This training allows the first responders to become more familiar with each other and their different practices, which is extremely valuable during any emergency scenario.

“Getting to see the officers, getting to work with EMS, they know how we operate, we know how they operate. It makes any scene we respond to seamless. It really benefits not only the departments but the citizens of Manhattan.”

Gering said that he hopes annual training events like these will help ease the worries of the public.

“I understand and sympathize with the feelings of anxiety and concern. I hope [people]can see this piece today, see us all working hard, and they can take some safety and comfort knowing that we’re out here doing this; so if the event should arise, we can take care of them.”

This year’s training concludes on Thursday and will be held again next summer.