BARRINGTON — Fire trucks, ambulances and police cruisers crowded the parking lot outside Barrington Middle School on Saturday morning, and students splattered in fake blood covered the sidewalk near the rear entrance of the building.
Inside the school, police officers and firefighters moved through the halls — the firefighters working to help the student actors, while the police officers searched for the "active shooter."
The scene was part of a training exercise — the role of the actor shooter was played by one of the police officers — and was made possible by a $25,000 grant secured by Barrington Fire Department Captain Scott Carroll.
The grant allowed both departments to spend eight hours on Friday in classroom study and drills, and four hours on Saturday morning participating in the active shooter training. It was the first time both departments had worked together for this type of scenario, said Capt. Carroll.
"The trend has moved toward having the fire department as part of the response… studies have found that too many people were bleeding out" from injuries, he said.
In prior years, firefighters and EMTs remained outside buildings while police officers worked to eliminate the threat, but on Saturday morning, police officers and firefighters moved side-by-side throughout the middle school building.
"For something that we've never done before, I think the coordination was excellent," said Capt. Carroll.
Barrington Police Chief John LaCross agreed.
"It was very good," he said.
Chief LaCross said the police department has conducted five active shooter trainings since he arrived in Barrington. Years ago, one training was held in a building called "The Place" located on College Lane (the building has since been torn down). There was a training at the high school, one on the campus of the former Zion Bible College, and another at the middle school.
"Credit should go to Capt. Carroll for initiating the grant and securing the funding so both of the departments can train as one unit," he said.
Capt. Carroll also praised the work of the student actors who brought a very realistic feel to the training — the students wore fake blood and screamed out for help during the exercise.
"The kids were phenomenal," he said. "It helps."
Capt. Carroll added that feedback from police officers and firefighters was very positive following the training, and more work is planned. He and Chief LaCross said the local departments planned to continue with more training exercises in the future.
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