News Releases

Posted on: July 17, 2023

Joint Training Exercise Held at Amanda Arnold Elementary

News Release

July 10-12, we held our annual active violence training exercise over the course of three days at Amanda Arnold Elementary School in Manhattan.

Since 2016, this training has been bringing emergency response agencies together to prepare for active violence situations.

"There is an unfortunate new norm that has made our collective way of life unrecognizable from years past," RCPD Director Brian Peete said. "As threats arise, the Riley County Police Department and our allies will evolve and remain at the forefront of meeting and overcoming them. We are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our community, especially our children. As you watch the video of the training, you may have conflicting emotions. The first may be concern and uncertainty because of that new norm I spoke of - that we are to the point that this training is necessary. But I hope the second emotion is faith and assurance that your police department and local first responders will be proactive in both stopping incidents before they may happen, and that we will quickly and competently respond to any incidents that may occur. Active violence training standards are a pillar in our efforts to reinforce preparedness and swift action. By equipping our officers with the necessary skills and knowledge, we will continue to strive for a secure environment in our schools where our children can flourish without fear. Our dedication to keeping our kids safe will always remain a top priority, as they are the heart and soul of what drives us all."

RCPD’s first objective will always be to neutralize the threat. Once the threat is neutralized, our officers’ focus moves to escort Manhattan Fire Department (MFD) personnel into the incident to provide point-of-injury/stabilization care. The injured are then transferred to Riley County EMS (RCEMS) personnel for more advanced treatment and transport to hospitals.

"Volunteer role players are essential to this training," RCPD Lieutenant/Training Instructor Tim Schuck said. "Their dedication to the role causes a lot of emotion from responders and observers. It's important to make the scenarios as realistic as possible so we can train effectively."

Volunteers act as “victims” during the exercise - wearing make-up and moulage to represent injuries and expressing distress to simulate the chaos of an active scene. We use scenarios with realistic, intense, hands-on environments requiring responders to make real-time decisions.

"This training benefits the entire community," MFD Battalion Chief/Training Instructor Mark Whitehair said. "Exposing our crews to these stressors allows us to build trust and cohesiveness across the agencies. The interdepartmental training helps us identify the strengths of each agency and coordinate methods of joint response. Skills and experiences gained through simulated training provide us foresight on the process should an active violence situation that requires a multi-agency occur."

Instructors and facilitators are also on-site to observe and provide feedback, looking for ways to improve and work through the incident. Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 teachers, staff, and school board members are also invited to watch and discuss the response.

"Having first responders actively practice in our schools adds an invaluable layer of familiarity and collaboration between our education community and those who protect us," USD 383 Director of Communications and School Safety Michele Jones said. "By working hand in hand, we create a safer environment that builds confidence and reassurance in our students, staff, and parents alike."

Personnel from RCPD, MFD, RCEMS, USD 383, and Riley County Emergency Management (RCEM) also participated in a tabletop exercise all three days to discuss response and operations from a Unified Command standpoint. These tabletops were facilitated by RCEM and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.

“The lessons we learn in this exercise can be applied to car wrecks, tornadoes, storms, or to any kind of event that involves all of us working well together," RCEMS Assistant Director Josh Gering said. "We get a tremendous amount of value being able to do this every year to reestablish relationships and re-familiarize ourselves with not only our own response plans but the response practices of our partners in the community." 

This yearly training is the culmination of meticulous planning by instructors, school staff, and first responder leaders. Thank you to the volunteers who spent 3 days working to make us better. You provide a powerful element of realism to this training.

We would also like to thank all the first responders and emergency organizations that participated, observed, or provided support.

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