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Preparing for a hostage situation

La Crosse area first responders train for an active shooter situation

Preparing for a hostage situation

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Although they hope there never is one, La Crosse first responders are prepared to handle an active shooter.

Tuesday La Crosse police department, fire department, emergency response team and EMS personnel did a training scenario to make sure each department knows its role in certain situations.

It's a training that happens about once a year, but it's absolutely necessary so that all agencies know exactly what to do if the unthinkable happens.

Here's the scene: a meth lab explodes inside a car, the driver runs into a nearby home and takes everyone inside hostage.

When a meth user takes over this home and shoots a police officer, it is anything but ordinary for those responding to the scene.

"The firefighters arrived on the scene and had to make decisions, you know there is a shooting going on, but there is a (police officer) down, what do we do?," director of Wisconsin's Academy of Rural Medicine Kimberly Lansing said.

"This is the type of training that you don't see everyday. This is something that can definitely happen and it makes us aware of how the fire department would be coming involved with the police department on a unified command scene," La Crosse fire department Lt. Blane Neher said.

The fire department has to wait and watch as an officer suffers and a fire continues to grow.

"We want to stay away from the scene and let the people that are capable of handling an active shooter do their job before we make entry," Neher said.

Arriving on scene is the Emergency Response Team. This team, made up of La Crosse Police officers and emergency medical responders from the fire department, places its Bearcat between the down officer and the shooter, then take the officer to safety.

"This training benefits us because it allows us to apply the skills and tactics that we've learned in a reality based scenario," emergency response team Lt. Dan Kloss said.

Once the officer is out of harms way, team leader Kloss coordinates with all departments on scene to make sure everything goes according to plan.

"It helps us with communications, it helps us see where where we're good at things and where we're not," Kloss said.

When the conflict has ended and everyone is safe all breathe a sigh of relief, remembering this is just a drill.

"Guys get that realistic experience which is what this scenario brings to us," Kloss said.

The emergency response team leader says communication is an area he feels needs some work, but added everyone has a specific mission which is to save lives and they did that.

This specific training scenario was put on by University of Wisconsin med students and Gundersen Health System.

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