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Urban Shield Program Preps Officers

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Dallas/Fort Worth (CBSDFW.COM) – First responders from sixteen counties are training in Dallas and Fort Worth this weekend for the toughest kinds of emergency scenarios.

The program is known as Urban Shield, and it is put on with grant money through the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

SWAT teams, bomb squads, police, EMS and civilians are taking part, running through 18 different scenarios.

“We try to stay calm but they get us worked up. They know how to route the scenario where they’ll get our blood pumping and get us thinking,” says Christian Gipson, a Garland Police officer who is on the SWAT team.

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The training exercises take place at 18 locations throughout the Metroplex. Examples of the types of situations officers are responding to include: a school shooting, to a bomb scare, an active shooter at a hospital, and a man hunt after nightfall.

It’s all staged, with civilians playing the role of the wounded, and other officers standing in as the suspects, but the goal is to make the training as much as real life as possible.

“Not every SWAT team runs the same way. Not every bomb squad works the same way. Then to incorporate a K9 into that is another component that adds a different dynamic,” said Red Oak Police Chief Garland Wolf.

Better communication among departments, Garland officer Joe Harn says, is one of the main reasons to run the training.

“One of the things we found out in these emergencies that happen across the U.S., is the lack of communication,” said Harn.

Especially in cases where multiple agencies are called to help. Officer Harn says first responders in Boston went through the training just a few months before the marathon bombing.

“This type of training was conducted before that took place, which allowed those officers to respond more effectively,” said Chief Wolf.

The first responders trained for 20 hours on Saturday. They’re being graded on their responses, and when it’s over the various departments will regroup to debrief on their performances.

“There’s so many different environments we have to be flexible. For Garland there will not a scenario that we won’t be trained on that we know we need to work harder on,” said Officer Gipson.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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