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Okaloosa County holds active shooter drill
OKALOOSA COUNTY -- OKALOOSA COUNTY - Incidents like the Sandy Hook shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing have local law enforcement officers training for a bigger range of threats. Planners of an exercise in Okaloosa County used a special effects company to give officers some surprises.
Laura Hussey "The idea for exercises like these is to stress the emergency responders, surprise them. In this scenario, an active shooter has taken over the Shalimar courthouse. They know he has guns, they don't know he has explosives"
Shooter "I am the bad guy, that's all you need to know"
The bad guy holds hostages in a courtroom, while deputies stand ready outside.
Shooter "Does it sound like I'm armed?"
The shooter role-plays firing at a hostage, and waits for the SWAT team. Then, he sets off a bomb.
The simulated explosives were donated by a Fort Walton Beach Company called Explotrain. President Dean Preston says they usually work with the military, to make training unforgettably realistic.
Dean Preston/Explotrain "A blast of sound, a punch of sound that you will absolutely feel. Again, we're talking about the deeper psychological level, stimulate the nervous system into that fight or flight response"
As casualties are being treated there are three explosions in a row, simulating several officer deaths.
Preston says the simulated bombs outside were secondary devices, planted to harm responders while they deal with the initial emergency.
Dean Preston "They're never going to look at a trash can in the corner the same way again, they're going to look behind that fence, they're going to notice that vehicle that doesn't seem quite right, why is there a big box in it"
Exercise planners told emergency managers to move their command post closer to the courthouse than normal, to make sure they were affected by the blasts.
Paul Smith/Ocean City/Wright Fire District "Very realistic. Unexpected. But we dealt with it, we managed it"
Laura Hussey "This is a tactical robot, just one more tool the teams used in today's exercise. This is going to run for two more days, so people from other agencies can get the training.'