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Police, first responders prepare for active shooter scenario

It was the first time the Air National Guard was able to collaborate with them

DES MOINES - There have been dozens of mass shootings all across the nation already this year, including the one in Dixon, Ill., on Wednesday.

In order to keep people safe, first responders must be ready for anything thrown their way.
It's training they hope they never have to use.

Thursday marked the first time that the Iowa Air National Guard had ever worked with Polk County Emergency Management Services, as well as several local law enforcement agencies. They worked at this office building on an active shooter scenario.

"Really, the most important thing is being able to practice in real-time on real channels what a response to this kind of incident would look like," said Capt. Cait Suttie of the Iowa Air National Guard.

"It's good to know, it's not just your local law enforcement showing up," said Lt. Rich Blaylock of the Polk County Sheriff's Department. "It's not just the county, you're going to have other agencies. For something this big, you're going to have agencies from all over the metro."

It's pivotal for first responders to be able to work together, especially under pressure. 

"It was both practicing that response and securing the building as well as that medical response," said Suttie.

In Thursday's training exercise, an active shooter worked through this Air National Guard building. 

In this scenario, more than a dozen people were injured. Others were considered to be dead. 

Police worked to find the people who were hurt and positioned them for the medics. 

"It's in a warm zone, so there's still the possibility of a threat, so that's why we collaborate with the law enforcement," said Lt. Rick Thomas of the Des Moines Fire Department.

Being able to develop that timing and teamwork pays off for them in the long run. 

"Every time we work together, it's going to get a little bit better, a little bit smoother," said Suttie. 

And this is a partnership that they hope will continue in the very near future, but they haven't set any dates for that yet.

If Thursday's scenario had been real at the air guard base, Des Moines Police would have been first on the scene. Then, the county and other outside departments would come in as backup.  There are active shooter drills throughout the year, many of them run by the county.


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