Char-Koosta News 

PABLO — The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that there were 30 active shooter incidents in the United States in 2017. The trend inspired an active shooter training hosted at Salish Kootenai College (SKC), which was attended by over 160 first responders from throughout the valley.

“With the state of things, the trend of active shooters probably isn’t going to get better,” Montana Disaster and Emergency Services preparedness coordinator Rick Forkel said. “A lot of these incidents occurred in rural areas so it’s important that Montana stay up to date on how to respond.”

The three-day training was hosted by SKC’s Emergency Services Academy and included instruction from over 18 experts. SKC Office of Grants and Contracts Director Greg Gould said the goal was to develop a streamlined emergency response system amongst local state, tribal, and city agencies. 

“When disaster strikes there are so many people involved in first response, from law enforcement to healthcare providers,” Gould said. “Instead of having each agency train separately, it would be more effective if everyone is on the same page. More cooperation means better service.”

The National Center for Biomedical Research and Louisiana State University designed the training’s curriculum, which was separated into three phases: law enforcement, EMS Schools, and healthcare providers. Gould said a highlight came when participants responded to active shooter simulation scenarios. 

“We really saw the students abilities to respond to emergency situations improve from the training,” Gould said. “The simulations were so realistic and it was great to see that everyone got so much out of what they learned.”

Acclaimed responders including members of the New York Police Department, Homeland Security, and Navy Seals taught the training. “Our instructors were world class in their field,” Gould said. “They shipped in state-of-the-art support equipment. This is a huge opportunity for Montana. It shows that we aren’t 20 years behind what is going on.”

Aside from offering courses in emergency response, Gould said SKC plans to make the training an annual event.

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Editor's Note: Naomi Robinson was misquoted in the print version of the article in the photo caption. It has been corrected for the online version.

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