MANHATTAN (KSNT) – Manhattan and Riley County’s first responders started their annual active violence training this week. They are working with USD 383, otherwise known as the Manhattan-Ogden school district, to simulate crisis situations in schools. 

The district’s first day of school is just five weeks away, but the Riley County Police Department, Manhattan Fire Department and Riley County EMS want to make sure they’re prepared for the upcoming school year. They’ll be running drills through the halls of Anthony Middle School all week. Officers want community members, as well as the parents of students, to know these exercises play an important role in keeping responders prepared for anything. 

“We’re doing the best we can to train and be prepared for what could occur,” Kurt Moldrup, Riley County Police interim director, said. “And that’s all we can do is train, train, train so that we’ll be ready for the unexpected, which we need to expect.”

Community members act as victims during the drills. They yell for help and wear fake wounds to create a stressful, but the realistic environment for responders. Each department will run its staff members through this training until July 14. Two scenarios take place each morning and afternoon to ensure all emergency personnel has a chance to participate in the drills. 

“These drills are set up, again on things that have happened across the country that we see, and ‘what can we learn from them, how can we adapt with what resources we have here in Manhattan?'” Mark Whitehair, Manhattan Fire Battalion Chief, said.

The realistic simulations help responders figure out what works and what doesn’t so they’re ready when real crises strike. Participants say such intense, hands-on training is unique, and that it couldn’t’ be done without the help of USD 383. 

“To allow us to come and do this is super, super valuable,” Joshua Gering, Riley County EMS assistant director, said. “And I hope more school districts take a page out of USD’s book here and invite their responders and their communities in to get this kind of training.”

The overall goal is to improve school safety throughout the district, but these drills also help all three departments work as a cohesive unit during any other kinds of emergency response.