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William Tanner

The Korean National Police team had just settled into their seats. Geared up with pistols and rifles fitted with laser tips, they listened to their interpreter intently. And then it began. Gunshots rang out from the main stage theater. A flashbang went off simulating the explosion that happened next door. Then the South Korean team was out the door.

On Saturday Sept. 6 the Las Positas Campus played host to a 48-hour intensive training competition hosted by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office called Urban Shield. The college held two of the 35 sites used in the exercise.

The training gave SWAT teams from around the world the chance to train and learn from other organization while also allowing them to become familiar with locations they may see in the future. International teams are not strangers to the event and this year that included South Korea and Singapore.

“This volume of training is very hard to come by in Asia, especially South Korea because we have a small territory,” said the South Korean interpreter who asked not to be named. “We can work with the foreign country in a tactical team so we can make more friends and work together and learn different tactics from them.”

Site one at Las Positas, which was also site one of the whole exercise, was the rappel station. Teams had 15 minutes to send three team members up the side of the three-story 1800 building. Then every team member would rappel back down. This gave the teams a chance to practice something they don’t do every day.

Las Positas was a “black command” site, meaning that the teams worked together with emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. In the second scenario at the campus, SWAT teams would integrate with their medical team who would work with them at the next site in Dublin.

“Urban Shield was developed by our sheriff eight years ago. The first year was strictly law enforcement,” said Sgt. Scott Sorenson, the site two director. “So we added EMS and then we added fire, all that stuff added together where we all learned to work together.”

Travis County from Texas had the fastest time going up on day one, taking just under six minutes. Most teams sent their best climbers up the rope and averaged six to seven minutes to finish the first part of the course.

After finishing the rappel course, teams would gear up and head down to the 4000 building to enter the site two. Once inside the teams would learn of the second exercise: dignitary protection.

The scenario was based loosely on what happened in Arizona on Jan. 8, 2011 when Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 20 others were shot in a Safeway parking lot.

In the training scenario, the teams were reacting to an assault on a judge speaking at the main theater of the college. There were gunmen in the theater as well as injured spectators.

After making sure the gunmen were no longer a threat the SWAT teams would bring in EMS to help with triage and getting the spectators out of the theater. For the EMS teams they were given a chance to work closely with teams in a scenario that they were not used to with new tools they may not have.

“This is stuff we don’t deal with every day,” said Ryan, an EMS coordinator who asked for his last name to be withheld. “We usually deal with a patient by patient basis versus 30 people down here screaming at you. It also training for the SWAT teams to learn how to provide protection for the EMS teams.”

The scenario that was planned out gave everyone involved a chance to learn about the campus and how to deal with the scenario. It was designed to give them a chance to learn rather than learning at an actual event.

“What I liked about it was that the teams were able to get something from this,” said Sean Prather, Campus Safety Supervisor. “What a better place to do it than a place of higher education? To me it is a natural fit.”



For all photos of the event please click here:

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