Throughout the day on Saturday, police SWAT teams, bomb squads, search and rescue teams and emergency personnel have been training on different real world scenarios across North Texas.
The scenarios are part of a regional exercise called Urban Shield, which started on Friday and ends on Sunday. The exercise is sponsored by the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
The goal is to improve the way different agencies communicate during a disaster or mass-casualty incident, how to train better in the future, what equipment may need to be purchased and how well the area can handle responding to multiple incidents at once.
"These are not fabricated scenarios, they're scenarios that the public has to face everyday that they may or may not be aware of," said Red Oak Police Chief Garland Wolf. "So, it's important for us to put ourselves in those situations."
Wolf ran a scenario at the Duncanville Ag Barn on Saturday, where a SWAT team approaches a barn to serve a high-risk warrant. Officers go from briefing to breaching to arresting in about 90 minutes of work. On Saturday night a team from the Rockwall Police Department stormed the compound in the mock scenario with the help of the Texas Department of Public Safety's Air 101 above.
After encountering gunmen and possibly exchanging gunfire, the officers apprehended several individuals in the scenario and found intelligence that links to another scenario at an elementary school in Irving. At Stites Elementary School, an active-shooter scenario was re-created and required officers and EMS to interact. It also required bomb squads to search hundreds of backpacks for more ordinances.
"Unfortunately, in the world today we're posed with these types of situations everyday," Chief Wolf said. "And, so, working in conjunction with other teams should put the public at ease that we have trained on these scenarios."
And that's the point of these exercises, to practice working with other agencies and prepare for the worst, be it man made or a natural disaster.
"If we can't interact from communications all the way down to tactics and be able to integrate ourselves with another team when they call for mutual aid or support, again, there's a high probably of failure and that's not the business that we're in," Chief Wolf said.
There are scenarios at 16 different locations across the area, in what is a first of it's kind training event for agencies in North Texas. Alameda County, Calif. has held an Urban Shield event for several years. NCTCOG members recently visited when the annual drill was held there in the Bay Area.