Training for a worst-case scenario
Last updated 6/15/2022 at 3:28pm | View PDF
Once a year members of Fountain Police Department's Rapid Response Team — FPD's equivalent of SWAT — go through a week of special training to keep up their certifications.
They cover a wide variety of situations, from active shooters and barricaded subjects, to firearms qualifications and hostage rescues.
Their most recent 40-hour training occurred the first week of June, and several tragic mass shootings across the nation were fresh on their minds.
"In light of recent events in Uvalde, Texas, and elsewhere, it's important for the Fountain community to know how we train for situations like this," FPD Chief Chris Heberer said.
Sgt. Alan Smith, who led the RRT training, said despite the current events, his team members take these potential situations seriously all the time.
"Those incidents, sadly, it's nothing new; that's why we train regularly," he said.
On June 2, the RRT conducted an active-shooter training in the Lorraine Community Center, which many years ago served as a school and later the YMCA. Smith said the building is set to be demolished eventually, so damage from the training — like shooting open locks on doors and breaking open windows — is not a problem.
In fact, despite the building's age, it provided a realistic set of materials such as a variety of metal and wood doors, locks of varying strengths, the occasional desk and chair to serve as obstacles — all making the scenario as realistic as possible.
Stickers on the outside doors noting "Safe Place" and "No Firearms or Weapons Allowed on This Property" are a reminder of the refuge a place like a school is supposed to be, yet sometimes is not.
Smith said training weeks like these help the RRT feel confident in their ability to respond appropriately to emergencies should they arise. Other exercises included decisional shooting, building searches, gas deployment, and mechanical and ballistic breaching.
Fountain has 11 members on the RRT. In comparison, Colorado Springs has a full-time team comprised of 18. Fountain's RRT is auxiliary, meaning members have other full-time roles and they band together whenever needed.
RRT also includes medics from the Fountain Fire Department Tactical EMS, known as TEMS, who join all training and deployments.
"There are some instances where we would need to call El Paso County Sheriff's Office or CSPD for tactical support, but our team is capable of anything between emergency rescues and barricaded subjects," Smith said. "Our team currently meets the training standards for training hours suggested by the National Tactical Officer's Association (NTOA). In any dangerous situation, RRT deploys to help mitigate the danger for the public and other officers."