Members of Hood County’s SWAT team and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) benefitted from unique training scenarios at Tarrant County College Northwest Campus.
The Homeland Security-related exercises Nov. 9, aimed at preparing for major disasters, included personnel from 16 counties and was organized by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).
“The training aspect of Urban Shield was tremendous,” said SWAT Team Commander and Sheriff’s Office Captain Steve Smith, who was on Hood County’s first SWAT team in 1999. “We were exposed to several scenarios we normally wouldn’t be exposed to.”
The local SWAT team, consisting of 12 operators (members) from the Sheriff’s Office and the Granbury Police Department (GPD), normally trains 16 hours a month.
One situation was a mock train assault and hostage rescue. Although the passenger train situation won’t be a local problem any time soon, the tactics learned could be used for other incidents such as an assault on a bus. Another new scenario in the training was for biological hazards.
“We ran eight scenarios that day, and it was all over the Metroplex,” said Smith, who noted that Lieutenant Cliff Andrews of the GPD is the SWAT team leader. “We had a lot on active shooters – hoping it will never happen, but we certainly want to be prepared if it does.”
Hood County did have active shooter incidents involving peace officers this year.
A key part of the exercises was also to see how smooth communications would be between different agencies, Smith added.
The county’s Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Wilson said that 120 local CERT members from all over North Central Texas took part in search and rescue drills, and had training in medical triage and treatment as part of Urban Shield. Seven of the 20 active CERT members from Hood County were able to participate, Wilson said.
Among the exercises used was a search and rescue of a two-story apartment building, along with a staged plane crash.
“It was pretty intense,” Wilson said. “They brought in airplane parts and they searched for victims and had to document the scene. I was a safety officer on one of the scenes.
The CERT members were presented with a scenario with a partial building collapse, with live actors featuring painted-on blood posted in various locations, Wilson said.
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