Benton firefighters join county-wide active shooter drills

Benton firefighters participating in active shooter drills on Wednesday.
Benton firefighters participating in active shooter drills on Wednesday.(Source: KARK-TV)
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 9:58 PM CDT
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BENTON, Ark. (KARK/KAIT) – As Saline County law enforcement continues their active shooter training, some new faces are joining the drills.

The drills are part of an effort to teach officers and deputies what to do when an emergency hits home. They come as school safety concerns have become commonplace following the Uvalde shooting in June.

Joining the training this time around are firefighters from the Benton Fire Department. They would provide medical aid to victims as soon as possible on the scene.

Stuart Duke is an instructor from the department tasked with training the paramedics, from assessing the damage to evacuating with their team.

“RTF is a ‘rescue task force’ [involving EMS] and Benton is the pilot program,” Duke explained to content partner KARK. “What we are doing is providing immediate aid to people quicker than we have ever done before.”

The other half of RTF is made up of deputies and officers from surrounding agencies, such as Sgt. Justin Kirk with the Saline County Sheriff’s Office. The agents have the goal of clearing rooms and saving EMS so they can save others, a challenge for those used to drawing fire.

“That has been a whole new element to what we do,” he said. “It has added some new stresses to how we move in and protect them.”

With the addition of a paramedic team in Benton’s training, Saline County is one of the few counties in Arkansas using a multi-agency training program, working with various departments to run through drills and create county-wide plans of action.

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