BENTON, Ark. – Saline County’s active shooter drills continue for the 4th day, with law enforcement agents from surrounding departments tackling the chaos of an emergency head-on.
But also involved are those without a badge; volunteers who play a vital role, in making it as real as possible for those learning the ropes.
The “role players” as they’re referred to offer a different perspective – those caught in the crossfire, bystanders running away, even the shooters themselves – all elements that would appear in a real shooting so the emergency really hits home.
One of those helping is church administrator John Gathright, who also oversees his church security team. He says not only is this a way to give back to the Benton Police Department but a way to learn what to do in an emergency – skills that can easily transfer over to his team.
“The information and what you glean from this is invaluable,” Gathright said.
Over the days, he’s been assigned all types of injuries to recreate – chest wounds, shotgun injuries, minor scrapes and bruises; all scenarios officers and paramedics might find if the drill ever becomes reality.
Gathright says in addition to a new viewpoint of what goes into saving lives, volunteers also get a new appreciation for those who serve, men and women who could possibly face a real active shooter and walk into the line of fire.
“Their passion,” Gathright said, “you don’t pick that up necessarily unless you’re here. They want to get it right because they know, at some point in time, they have to get it right.”
In addition to civilians, off-duty officers and those familiar with these departments also spend time on the ground, a few who even did the training one day and then played victim another.