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Greenville County first responders taking weapons of mass destruction training

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Around 150 Greenville County first responders are training this week.

Though this is not connected to the fatal shooting at Tanglewood Middle School, several agencies will be evaluated and do exercises to make sure they’re always ready to protect us.

Be mindful, the training is taking place at the intersection of Waddell Road and West Lee Road, in Greenville.

The training facility is a former school. It used to be Wade Hampton Elementary.

Inside, were booby traps, shattered glass, smoke machines, and even dolls filled with dynamite as a distraction to throw teams off. Officials want the community to know that they prepare for events like this annually.

Lt. Ryan Flood with Greenville Police says you can never be too prepared.

“I think that you see the importance of training as it played into Tanglewood last week in that we are responding appropriately, that we are making sure that everybody is safe,” Flood said,

On the ground, you’ll see officers, deputies, The SWAT Team, firefighters, EMS workers, and more, as one. This gives teams a chance to practice setting up for serious events.

Flood says agencies are given grants.

“And in return, what SLED wants to ensure is that we are proficient in how to respond to certain incidents,” said Flood.

There were also snipers, chemical washes, and crews with hazmat suits.

“This one is dealing with our proficiency in how we respond to incidents involving WMDs,” said Flood.

That stands for Weapons of Mass Destruction. It’s basically anything that can hurt or effect a lot of people, such as a bomb.

After facing the fatal shooting at Tanglewood, Deputy Director of Greenville County Emergency Management Pierce Womack says there is always room for improvement.

“As we were setting up, a lot of the same faces that you see, a lot of the same tools, equipment—everything was very similar to last week,” Womack said, “It brings up things that happened last week. Could we improve? Could we be more efficient? A lot of times, there’s always a comparison. Even though things go well, we always want to look at it and see if we can do better.”

For example, Flood says there are plenty of components to work on.

“The common factor for what has lacked in a lot of incidents is communication,” said Flood.

Womack agrees and says they are already working out solutions.

“One of the main things is communications. Obviously, the county, all the responders are on the same radio system,” Womack said, “So, folks are able to change channels—just a simple turn of a knob. And police can talk to fire and fire can talk to EMS.”

Womack says because, no matter the badge, working as a unit is most important.

“It’s very crucial that first responders work together, because none of us can do this by ourselves,” said Womack.

This exercise has been scheduled for months. Training will continue until, at least, Thursday.