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Hostile event training set for October

Members of the public may see smoke and hear gunfire coming from Woodland Elementary School in Alexandria on Saturday, Oct. 8 — but it won't be a real emergency.

Fire Chief Jeff Karrow says the public should not panic, as the emergency personnel presence is part of a planned hostile event training.

The training will cover the roles of emergency personnel in situations like mass shootings and bombings, and will take place over two days. On Friday, Oct. 7, the training will be in a classroom at Discovery Middle School, consisting of labs and breakout sessions. Then, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, the training will be at Woodland Elementary, where a simulation will take place.

"It's an opportunity for us to train collaboratively with other emergency responders, such as EMS and fire, in a reality-based training," said Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen.

The 3E portion of 3ECHO stands for entry, evaluate and evacuate, which are three vital aspects when confronting a potential mass casualty situation.

"All we're trying to do is to bring the first responder community, homeland security, law enforcement, fire and EMS together to teach them how to salvage those wounded so they don't die," said Ron Robinson, Metro Region EMS System Coordinator for the Metropolitan Emergency Services Board.

Much like a mock car crash, those involved in the simulation will be made up to appear injured, and may also have props such as weapons.

Robinson says the training will begin on a small scale and gradually build.

"There's a lot of little movements that have to be taught in small groups, then you start linking them together and start building," he said. "So throughout this entire 12-hour period, we start building, and in the afternoon we go into two simulations. They're full scale exercises with smoke and noise and all kinds of things going on. One is an active shooter and one is a bomb, then we do one joint where all 100 and some people are involved. It takes a long time."

Karrow says that although the training will take place in Woodland, what is taught will be applicable in any setting.

"You basically can take this response, the 3ECHO response, anywhere, whether it's at the Maritime Museum, the football field outside, St. Mary's Sanctuary ... the response is going to be the same. You're going to have your incident unified command, you're going to have boots on the ground, security, people removing the victims."

After the training, emergency personnel will meet and discuss the outcomes of the training.

"These departments are going to get together and have a post-training critique," Karrow said. "We'll talk about what worked, what didn't, what's our normal training, how can we adjust."

Despite curiosity, law enforcement officials ask that the public not come on the property to view the training.

A $9,000 grant from the Alexandria Area Community Foundation and a $5,000 grant from the Minnesota Board of Firefighting Training and Education made this training possible.

Local entities involved in the training include the Alexandria Fire Department, the Alexandria Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, North Ambulance, West Central EMS and many county firefighters and first responders.

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

(320) 763-1233
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