STEPHENVILLE Even in rural Newfoundland, the RCMP want to get out of the mindset that “it’s never going to happen here.”
That’s why 35 members of the Bay St. George District Detachment of the RCMP, which includes Stephenville, Channel-Port aux Basques and Burgeo, underwent Immediate Action Rapid Deployment training this week.
This type of training became necessary following the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 in the small town of Littleton, Colorado, where two high school seniors carried out an assault on the school.
Twelve students and one teacher, along with the two shooters, died.
Back then, the traditional deployment involved first responders containing the area while waiting for an Emergency Response Team to arrive and deal with the threat.
After the events at Columbine, Immediate Action Rapid Deployment was developed so trained responders can deal with the active threat.
Corporal John Dawson, lead co-ordinator and instructor for Immediate Action Rapid Deployment, said this training is for all front line police.
He said the more recent events in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 strengthened his resolve to get everybody trained in the Bay St. George Detachment area
Twenty children and six staff members were killed by a gunmen in Newtown.
“I’ve added this Immediate Action Rapid Deployment into our block training and it will be done annually for current and new members,” Dawson said.
The training involves two days of 20 hours per member, with the majority of it tactical and scenario based training. The training includes dealing with everything from a threat at a business, a school or even in a parking lot.
With most of the incidents taking place fairly quickly, there is only a 15 to 20 minute window for first responders to jump into action. The work of the rapid deployment team is to bring the threat towards them so they’re able to deal with it.
The RCMP members used the L.A. Bown Campus of College of North Atlantic to carry out the training.
Dawson said it was also good for the campus, since police officers now know every nook and cranny of the building and understand the floor plan.
Stephanie Cramm, an observer on the training and a student with the disaster and emergency management program at the college, said there had been several lockdowns in that building in the past.
“From that and through conversations with the RCMP, police were receptive to housing the training here,” she said. “This training prepares our members for the worst case scenario,” he said.