Virtual Simulation Helps Prepare Teachers In Utah County For Real World Active Shooter

Jun 19, 2019, 10:03 PM | Updated: 10:48 pm

PROVO, Utah — Amid the push to prepare teachers for active shooters, a new sheriff-sponsored program in Utah County Wednesday used the virtual world as a training ground for the real world.

Teachers and staff from various schools took part in a VirTra 300-degree active shooter simulation which put them in the position of what police might see if they responded to a situation at a school.

At one point in the simulation, educators had to try to talk down an active shooter who had a gun pointed at a hostage.

“You think it’s just a video game until you step into it,” Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith said. “You’re there. You feel like you’re there, and so it’s a great tool to be able to feel that stress and then function in that stress.”

The training session was part of a ‘Teacher’s Academy’ sponsored by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office Honorary Colonels, a service organization designed to help with fundraising and awareness.

“This is the first class we’ve ever offered,” Smith said. “Before we knew it, we had a waiting list.”

Smith said the group was planning another session in the fall.

Wednesday’s event also included training from active shooter response instructor Dave Acosta of You Tactical and Fight Back Nation on how to disarm an active shooter at close range.

“I appreciate the training because it gives me options and ideas—not just sit there and be a sitting duck,” said attendee Cindy Bullock. “I’m the secretary at our school, so I would probably be the first person that someone saw when they came through the school because all the doors are locked but the front door, and so I feel vulnerable and I don’t want to feel vulnerable. I want to be able to do something.”

Smith said if teachers make the personal choice to actively defend their schools against active shooters, he wants them to be ready.

“If our teachers want to do that, we want to equip them and give them the capability to do it right,” Smith said.

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Virtual Simulation Helps Prepare Teachers In Utah County For Real World Active Shooter