BENTON, Ark. – It’s the reality of our world; the possibility of active shooter situations like those seen in Uvalde, Buffalo, and countless others.
But a two-week training held in Saline County is making sure law enforcement is prepared, hoping for the best but ready for the worst.
It’s much more than just textbook routines and slideshows – it’s as real as it can get without being a true emergency. The screams for help as victims lay bleeding, the sound of gunshots, being fired upon and hit with pellets, and fully armed police officers entering smoky hallways, guns drawn – all just a scenario, a training exercise held by Benton Police and Fire to prepare for a mass casualty event that would call all forces to the same place.
Lt. Quinton Jackson is one of the instructors on the ground, working with officials from Benton, Bryant, Saline County, and others to train them on what to do and how to work together. The teams run through three different scenarios a day, working together to assess the situation, stop the shooting, and treat victims.
“You want to get that stress level up,” Lt. Jackson said. ”We’re putting in different aspects of this training in order to grow it and build upon these skills we’ve learned over the years…[If we call for help] we know that they’re coming, we know that they’re trained and that knowledge of what each other is going to do is a big help.”
In the days following a series of national mass shootings, these trainings are more important than ever. For the first time, Benton Fire has gotten involved, and dispatchers with the communications division even observe and take notes to see what could go right – and what could go wrong.
“We take every situation that we hear about in the news, their successes, their failures, and we try to implement it to some degree,” Lt. Jackson said. “It’s the reason why we do it the way we do.”
He added, “You’re going to resort to your lowest form of training and if that training is zero, then zero is what you get.”