JACKSON CENTER — In accordance with their ongoing commitment to promote safety in the workplace, as well as in the local community, Airstream, Inc., in Jackson Center, hosted a tactical training drill for several local law enforcement agencies.
Airstream agreed to allow specialized law enforcement officers to use its main manufacturing facility as the stage for several simulated emergency situations where critical response was called for.
Airstream Marketing Specialists Tyler Williams, Adam Grilliot, and Jay Cullis were on hand to welcome those in attendance and answer any general questions pertaining to Airstream’s involvement and what was hoped to be gained by the drill.
“The number one priority at Airstream is the safety of our employees,” said Williams. “In partnering with local law enforcement and rescue agencies, we hope to develop a good working relationship and encourage preparedness in case there is ever a need for assistance. We would like to thank all those involved, including a number of our employees who are participating in various capacities.”
Jackson Center Police Chief Chuck Wirick also voiced his appreciation for all who planned, contributed to, and executed the training session, but most especially Airstream for hosting the event.
“Airstream graciously agreed to allow us to come here and use their building during their annual planned manufacturing shutdown, which provided the perfect setting for this kind of exercise,” Wirick said. “We are constantly training for this, and other emergency situations, but unless given the chance to try out our techniques and equipment, we’re not fully trained; this drill allowed us to do just that.
“Very seldom do we get a chance to integrate K9 units into a practice drill, so this was a unique opportunity in that respect. We set up and responded to several critical response scenarios, including interaction with an active shooter, dealing with an unknown number of armed suspects, providing assistance to critically injured victims and defusing potential threats, like a hostage situation.
“Our goal is to make sure law officials and everyone involved in responding is on the same page; organization is key and there is no substitute for planning ahead and proper training.”
There were a number of local law enforcement agencies on hand, as well as a few Wildlife Officers with the Ohio Department of Natural Recourses. Co-organizer Wirick estimated there were at least 120 people in attendance.
There were five S.W.A.T. teams with 12 people on each team, along with law officers representing the following agencies:
• Jackson Center Police Department
• Southwest Regional K9 Training Group
• Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office
• Darke County Sheriff’s Office
• Shelby County Sheriff’s Office
• Miami County Sheriff’s Office
• Troy City Police Department
• Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association Command Vehicle
• ODNR Wildlife Officers
The soaring temperatures and high humidity added an additional level of challenges associated with the exercise, but Chief Wirick said, “That’s all just part of it; it’s not the best day to be out in the sun dressed in black clothing and the temperature inside the building was well over 100° in some places, but there is no guarantee on what type of environment we’ll be facing, so in a way, the heat made the drill more realistic.”
Besides the obvious concerns and tasks associated with overcoming the source of the problem in a critical response call, there is also the issue of treating seriously wounded victims and bystanders. During the practice drill, Anna Rescue and the Airstream Critical Response team was on hand and set up a mobile triage center where volunteers posing as injured victims were assembled and examined to determine the type of treatment needed based on the degree of injury; some were superficial, others critical.
Each “victim” was assigned a particular injury and the rescue team then worked to determine the severity of the injury while delivering essential treatment in preparation to move the victim to the nearest hospital. This process rations patient treatment efficiently when resources are insufficient for all to be treated immediately.
Conducting the triage determines the order and priority of emergency treatment, transport, and final destination for each patient.
Jessica Lemly, with Anna Rescue, noted how important it is to be properly trained for this part of a critical response situation.
“Unlike other emergency responses, rescuers responding to this kind of setting are often overwhelmed with the number of casualties and degree of injury,” Lemly said. “There is no time to think, just act. Our job is to make a quick assessment, record our findings, and relay the information to the hospital so they know what’s coming and what to expect when the patient arrives.”
Another key element of the response was two mobile command and communication vehicles. The Buckeye Sheriff’s Association and Darke County Sheriff’s Department was on hand with their mobile command units; trailers with climate control and a variety of radios, computers, scanners, and other equipment designed to coordinate resources in the event of a response.
Video transmitted from drones flying above the scene was analyzed and used in the response as well.
During the drills, three attendees representing the media were allowed to witness and document the procedures used to locate and subdue suspects in two situations; one using the K9 unit and the other employing one of the S.W.A.T. teams.
“Colt,” a sturdy black police dog, was brought to a field where a suspect was hiding behind a large electrical utility box. The dog was notably excited and ready to do its job; it located the scent of the suspect in the grass and tracked it to the hiding place where the criminal was discovered and overpowered.
Colt made quick work of the situation and had the assailant neutralized in no time; it was noted that dogs can be very effective in locating and defusing certain threats that would be impossible any other way.
After coordinating and carrying out a number of exercises, the law enforcement officers and rescue personnel were moved to an air-conditioned area where lunch was provided by The Heidout Restaurant and Bar, in Jackson Center; doughnuts were provided by Casey’s General Store in the morning before the drill, and Plastipak Packaging provide the much-appreciated iced bottled water.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.