Police prepare region’s first responders for the worst

Jun 14, 2024

With guns drawn, police officers burst through the doors of the Decas School towards the sound of gunfire and calls for help on Friday, June 14. 

While the techniques used by first responders were real, the calls for help came from actors and the gunshots were made using a “shot box,” a device that simulates the sound of gunfire.

This scene was part of  the Wareham Police Department’s recent set of trainings to help prepare first responders for mass-casualty situations. So far, the department has used realistic simulations like this one to train 213 first responders from across southeast Massachusetts, according to Wareham Police Officer, Calib Larue.

This is done through the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training program, which is designed to simulate scenarios like active shootings, stabbings and bombs, Larue said. 

Police ran three simulations for trainees, vividly depicting “active attack” situations using prosthetic wounds, weapons and sounds of gunfire. 

In the first scenario, actors played the roles of shooting victims, calling for help and laying on the ground as they waited for first responders to arrive.

Like a real first response situation, trainees had to wait to enter the building to simulate the time it takes for them to arrive on the scene. When he did the training, Larue said that his instinct was to enter the building right away after hearing reports of shots being fired, but in a real life scenario, that’s not always possible.

“It’s all staged because you’re not going to be able to get 16 police officers here right away,” he said. “It’s going to take time.”

In the training, responders simulated tying tourniquets around victims’ injured limbs, packing open wounds and carrying injured people out of the building.

According to Larue, the training equipment was funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. 

“This did not cost Wareham one penny to get,” Larue said.

Wareham just supplied the staffing and building space for the response training. 

Wareham Fire Rescue 1 parked outside of the school, a vehicle that features a mobile command center with whiteboards and four different radios.

Larue said that having the vehicle is “huge.”

“In the police car we don’t really have this,” he said.

Larue said that he decided to bring the program to Wareham after attending the program’s instructor school in Yarmouth. 

“It is the best training in my thirteen years in law enforcement that I have ever gone to,” Larue said.

Larue said that this was the first time he has trained in unison with the Wareham fire departments and emergency medical services.

“If anything like this happens,” Larue said. “We are all going to be able to back each other up.”

Firefighter Matthew Kelley said that one of the goals for participants was to help teach them how to put tourniquets on themselves and others in 20 seconds or less.

“I’m hoping one of their main takeaways from this is not only how to save themselves, but to save as many people as possible,” Kelley said.

“This helps us anywhere we have to respond to in this town,” Wareham Police Chief Walter Correia said.