Written by Audrey Sochor
On Feb. 28 first responders from around the county came together for a virtual training session with real life benefits.
Responders from law enforcement, EMS, dispatch and fire experienced hostage and active shooter situations in the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE), which is a multiplayer, scalable, online training similar to a video game.
Jeff Friedland, director of Homeland Security & Emergency Management for St. Clair County, worked to get EDGE training here because he saw the potential for county-wide multi-disciplined training.
“And now this will allow us to do scenarios, to do testing and find what works, what doesn’t work,” he said. “We can adjust our plans.”
When it comes to a hostile event like those experienced in EDGE training, Friedland said combined resources and collaboration between agencies will be needed, therefore every department should be using the same system, which this will allow them to do.
“No one agency can handle it by themselves,” he said.
EDGE was launched the summer of 2017 by Cole Engineering with support from Homeland Security. So far it has been used by more than 600 agencies across the United States.
Tabitha Dwyer, creative director of EDGE, said there are no pre-canned scenarios. Everybody involved is a live role-player so scenarios are created on the fly, and just like real life, responders don’t know what they’re heading into when they response to a call.
Sergeant Scott Baldwin with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office said it’s a great training tool because they’re able to go in as a team and communicate with each other. In this case, they were dealing with hostile situations in a full 26 story hotel.
“It’s a great opportunity to come together to work out some of the bugs, to have a very realistic scenario in a situation where nobody can get hurt,” Sergeant Baldwin said. “Where you can learn, and try to change the mindset you need to get through whatever scenario gets thrown at you.”