RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- More than a dozen law enforcement officers swarmed a high school as part of a training class against an active shooter.
While school may be out for spring break in Jackson County, the halls were filled with armed officers.
They learned how to deal with an armed suspect in the school, around the school or in a school bus.
Officials say this type of tactical training helps improve teamwork, communication and gives them a chance to learn maneuvers while being aware of their surroundings.
It was also an eye-opening experience for some people in the Ravenswood community who acted as hostages in several scenarios.
In one scenario, it's an early morning at Ravenswood High, and shots are fired. Two gunmen are staked out with a plan. Law enforcement is greeted with gunfire and, as they rush in, an officer is shot. It's realistic and forces officers to make split-second decisions.
"I put them under a lot of stress," trainer Harry Teare said. "It's making them think outside of their comfort zone and dealing with different situations."
In another scenario, several hostages are held captive in a classroom.
"It was just really an eye-opener to all of the steps they've got to go through," Ravenswood Mayor Michael Ihle said. "It was nerve-wracking not knowing what was happening."
"It just makes me feel safer that they're here doing this training in my school," student Preston Humphreys said.
After the simulation was finished, it was back to the classroom for a debrief to discuss what went right and what went wrong.
"They're communicating better, they're working as a team," Teare said. "Even though they're different agencies, they pull together very well in the scenarios and came out ahead actually."
Teamwork and communication are most important, Teare said. He knows the importance of protection and preparation, having more than two decades of experience teaching these active shooter classes.
Outside, law enforcement officers dealt with a threat near a school bus. Community members were put in the middle to see what officers are up against.
"It really brought it home that this really could happen here in our own backyard," Councilwoman Kathy Garrett said. "It was really frightening at times."
Of course, this was practice but the payoff may be in peace of mind. Officers say they'll do their best to protect anyone who's a target.
The officers spent the afternoon writing essays about their experiences. More training classes are in the works for this summer.
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