Cooperative training a must

Published 10:32 pm Thursday, March 8, 2018

The aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, taught Americans many things.

Among the more practical lessons of that awful day was that many first-responder agencies in the United States were unable to communicate effectively with one another in cases of emergency. Their technology wouldn’t sync so that they could coordinate a response.

Agencies at all levels of government, both military and civilian, and across the country have spent the last 17 years taking steps toward rectifying that problem. And while it may not be perfect yet, it’s almost assuredly better than it used to be.

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One recent example of a multi-agency effort here in Suffolk happened on Feb. 6, when the Suffolk Police Department trained with Federal Protective Services at Naval Information Forces, a Department of Defense installation on Lake View Parkway in North Suffolk.

The active-shooter training involved more than 300 sailors, government employees and contractors as well as local law enforcement, who would also be likely responders in the event of an emergency at the compound.

The joint training gave everyone involved the chance to familiarize themselves with the Navy’s Run-Hide-Fight training. The drill featured a role-playing active shooter, armed with a simulated weapon, stomping through the hallways, banging on office doors, shouting threats and “shooting” anyone within sight, whether military member or civilian.

Those who were “shot” then pretended to be victims, lying on the floor waiting for first responders to react accordingly.

This drill happened about a week before 17 students, teachers and staff were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., bringing the issue of how to respond to these terrible tragedies to the forefront once again.

Whether it is a school shooting or a large-scale disaster like the 2001 terrorist attacks, our law enforcement and first responders need to know how to work together on events like these in order to capture offenders and save lives. We appreciate the Navy and the Suffolk Police Department working together to train here in Suffolk.