Local and state law enforcement officers received active shooter emergency response training last week, including active-shooter simulations with live volunteers.

Eight instructors from the Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education at Louisiana State University delivered the “Train-the-Trainer” program that’s certified by the Department of Homeland Security. The class included wildlife troopers from Haines and Juneau, a Customs and Border Protection officer, a state parks’ ranger, and five Haines Police officers.

The training is unique due its simulations of emergency situations. The scenarios took place in the school and were designed to be realistic, using non-lethal training ammunition and volunteers to play the parts of victims, witnesses, and aggressors. The training weapons, or “simunition,” fire and look like normal weapons, except the 9mm rounds have a heavy plastic coating where a lead or metal jacket would normally be.

The training was paid for by a federal grant. The simunition guns and rounds are expensive, said police chief Heath Scott, but worth it due to the increased preparation officers get.

“The real benefit is that with this type of training we get to be in those environments that we work in: a small room, a long hallway, a large room that feeds into a small bathroom. We get to experience that. To think a law enforcement officer in this day and age is prepared to deal with dynamic, kinetic situations having just gone to the range is silly,” Scott said.

Six scenarios were simulated on Thursday including threat neutralization, securing a facility, and providing life support. Each lasted less than three minutes, said Scott, and was repeated several times so officers could improve their response.

The training discussed recent shootings such as San Bernadino and Parkland. The psychological stress of the training was greater than the physical stress despite a rigorous week, Scott said. “Every member of this law enforcement agency has a child or a grandchild in that school,” Scott said. “When you seriously sit down and think about what you’re preparing yourself for, I’d rather train than do it.”

The volunteers were trained beforehand on their roles and safety equipment. Each took their role very seriously, said volunteer Sean Maidy. “When I was playing the threat and they shot at me, I took the hits and actually fell back against the locker to make it real. I tried to make it as real as possible.”

Thirteen Haines community members volunteered, including members of the school administration and volunteer fire department.

Several school administrators volunteered at the last minute to support the training.

“Everybody in the building ended up volunteering,” said volunteer and interim superintendent Rich Carlson. “We were told going in that the culmination of the whole thing was the role playing, and we wanted it to be a success. We thought it would last maybe 45 minutes, but it ended up being three or four hours. It was well worth it.”

“The impressive part was how much our officers grew during that training,” said Maidy. “It was amazing how fast they were able to acquire the threat.”

The department hopes to get the next level of training on post-incident response next year, Scott said. That training would likely include dispatch, EMS-responders, school administrators, and the SEARHC clinic.