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Aiken Special Response Team trains for school safety

Posted: August 2, 2017 - 1:24am
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Aiken Department of Public Safety Special Response Team moves through the halls of Millbrook Elementary School in Aiken. The team uses the summer months to train in school buildings for active-shooter situations.
Aiken Department of Public Safety Special Response Team moves through the halls of Millbrook Elementary School in Aiken. The team uses the summer months to train in school buildings for active-shooter situations.

It's hands-on training that Aiken Department of Public Safety Lt. Craig Burgess hopes his special response team will never have to use - preparing for an active shooter on a school campus.

Team members stalked the halls of Millbrook Elementary School last week with weapons in hand and laser-sharp focus on what could be around the corner if a shooter were present.

Burgess and the 14 members of the team train once a month in a variety of settings to prepare for any type of active-shooter situation.

"We welcome the opportunity to host local law enforcement personnel yet again for vital emergency-response training we certainly hope they are never asked to use," Aiken County School District Director of Operations Dr. Tim Yarborough said in a statement.

During the summer, the team takes advantage of empty schools. They train at different schools each time to familiarize themselves with the various layouts of the schools if an active shooter does enter one of the buildings.

In June, the team trained with teachers and an actor portraying an active shooter at Aiken Middle School. That drill also included other first responders, including paramedics.

"We use these opportunities to stay fresh and hone our skills," Burgess said.

The Special Response Team is made up of police officers who meet certain criteria, including above-average marksman skills and physical conditioning. In the event of a scenario that required the team, the officers would be equipped with protective body armor, cameras and special weapons.

While they have never had to use their skills in a school setting, the team has responded to other public locations where a shooter was present. Burgess said it's not a question of if his team will be called again, but when.

 

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