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Telluride law enforcement trains for active shooter

 Telluride Intermediate/High School, the site of a recent active shooter training
Ed LaCasse
Courtesy of Telluride School District
Telluride Intermediate/High School, the site of a recent active shooter training

In 2022 alone, there have been nearly 30 school shootings in the U.S.

When shootings occur, local law enforcement are tasked with responding.

To be prepared, first responders in the mountain town of Telluride held a recent active shooter training.

It won’t be long before the Telluride High School is once again bustling with students, going from one class to another, chatting with friends.

But on a clear evening in August, the lobby of the Palm Theatre is bustling with law enforcement and paramedics.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s come to something that we need to train in our schools, for something like this. Having Columbine happened over twenty years ago, we’re expected to be proficient at these scenarios,” said Telluride Chief Marshal Josh Comte.

Officers from the Telluride Marshal’s Department and Mountain Village Police Department, San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, and Telluride Fire Protection District are gathered together for an active shooter training.

Chief Comte starts with a debrief on how the training is going to go.

“We have two scenarios. We’re going to literally walking through these. So we going to walk through it, work on going through the motions, make mistakes,” he said.

The training on this night is focusing on getting a shooter contained in a location, moving rescue task forces into the building, triaging victims and getting them to safety.

Victims in this training are portrayed by pieces of paper with descriptions written on them, some say deceased, others describe how the individual is wounded.

“If you’re asking for stuff with unified command, ask for it. We’re not going to have dispatch repeating that, but we want to hear you guys voice what you’re doing,” Comte briefed.

“If you’re asking for multiple helicopters, multiple units from other agencies, voice it as realistic as we can to get these agencies rolling.”

In the first scenario, a shooter is near the gym in the intermediate school.

“So it’s a Monday morning, say 11 o’clock. Jimmy’s our SRO, [Student Resources Officer] Jeremy’s our deputy working patrol,” Comte announced to the group.

“Jeremy’s here for a meeting and we get calls of a ‘shots fired’ in the intermediate school on the north side.”

Two Marshal Deputies enter the scenario.

“As they’re passing, their main job is to go to the threat,” Comte explained.

“We have our role players, which is our pieces of paper, with should indicate to them, with open doors as well, that this is where our first mass casualty incident is.”

“The way it should work, is they should start seeing these issues, start seeing that we have this room with a lot of people down. So this should be our first casualty collection point. We want [paramedics] to grab people, bring them in here, and then start treating them as best as they can. Law enforcement will provide cover on the windows and the doors and everything else,” Comte said.

The scenario wraps in about fifteen minutes. Law enforcement set up a security corridor, paramedics carry victims to safety.

The scenario wasn’t completely flawless. There’s room for improvement, but Comte notes that’s the point , training to get better, and to be prepared for the unexpected.

“It’s all going to be game time decisions. My favorite quote is by Mike Tyson, ‘Everyone’s got a plan until you get punched in the face’. So we’re going to come in here with the best case scenario, and it’s going to change, it's always going to change,” Comte said.

It’s all to ensure, Chief Comte says, they’re up to the task, if the unfortunate time comes.

This story from KOTO was shared with Aspen Public Radio via Rocky Mountain Community Radio, a network of public media stations in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, including Aspen Public Radio.

Copyright 2022 Aspen Public Radio . To see more, visit Aspen Public Radio.