Emergency Response Team holds training at New Haven High School

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Above: During the E.R.T.'s training Deputy Jones attempts to make contact with the suspect.

New Haven, Mo – Franklin County’s Emergency Response Team (E.R.T) is conducting training exercises at New Haven High School today.  Members of Franklin County’s E.R.T. are trained in special weapons and tactical high-risk situations.

Sergeant Travis Blankenship is a patrol supervisor and the team leader for E.R.T.  Blankenship said, “Today we are working on the clearing of larger buildings and isolating a threat to a specific area…working on team movement and communication.”

In the scenario QNHN experienced, two students spiraled into an argument during basketball camp.  The suspect had a hostage in a classroom in the middle school section of the building.  The team’s objective was to locate what room the suspect was in with the main focus of preventing any type of harm to the hostage.

During the scenario, officers slowly and methodically proceeded down the hallway, clearing each classroom as well as a bathroom, until they were able to determine what room the suspect and hostage were located in.

The team also utilized a remote controlled robot that was recently acquired through a Homeland Security grant funding.

Blankenship said, “The robot is relatively new to the team and something we are growing with.  It is a huge asset because I can send the robot into an area instead of sending one of our guys…preventing from putting him [the team member] in danger.  The robot has two cameras, lights, and the ability for us to hear sound and speak through it.”

Today’s TV shows always show officers busting down doors, going in full force with their weapons drawn.

Blankenship responded by saying, “Every situation is different.  Essentially, we take the circumstances or the information being fed to us and act accordingly.”

Blankenship said, “Some situations require a dynamic explosive type entry and other situations require a slow methodical entry…it is dictated by what the incident is and we respond accordingly.”

Blankenship discussed, “What we refer to as the “hierarchy of responsibility scale” is something we use to determine the type of entry we make.  If a hostage is involved they rank higher than law enforcement.  The hostage is our number one priority; officers put their lives on the line to protect them.  Knowing we may be shot at we still have an obligation of protecting the hostage.”

After they determined what room the suspect was another team entered from the rear of the building.

Blankenship said, “However, if we have one suspect who is armed, the officer’s life is the first priority.  We’ll continue talking with the suspect until he/she comes out unless of course there are different circumstances that would dictate a different type of action."

The Sheriff’s department invests a great deal of time in training, never knowing when they will be needed.  The team trains 16 hours a month with the E.R.T and one 40-week training period throughout the year.

After making several attempts at getting the suspect to come up, the team prepares to make entry because the suspect had a hostage.