First Responders-in-training pelted each other and the lead-based paint walls at Wooldridge Hall with colored simulation bullets during a UT Police Department training session that began Monday.
Assistant Chief of Police Terry McMahan said the trainees will go through active-shooter training, the kind employed when a UT student fired an assault rifle on campus before taking his own life on Sept. 28, 2010.
“It’s a multi-agency training, so Travis County [Sheriffs], DPS [Department of Public Safety], APD [Austin Police Department] and UTPD are all taking part in this,” McMahan said. “If we had an active shooter, we’d have multiple teams to respond seamlessly like they did on the 9/28 incident.”
Once the center for study abroad and international student’s offices, Wooldridge Hall will be demolished later in the year.
UTPD holds this sort of “force-on-force training” whenever a University building becomes obsolete, McMahan said.
“We did this in the ROTC building before it got torn down,” he said. “It gives you a realistic way to learn how to do these things in an actual University building.”
Rhonda Weldon, director of University Operations-Communications, said UT routinely holds this kind of training to better prepare for emergency situations.
UTPD posted a warning last Thursday on their Facebook page to “expect lots of commotion” near Wooldridge Hall this week as the First Responders train.
The department will hold training from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until Wednesday, in the hall located on 24th Street between Nueces and Seton streets in West Campus.
Don Verett, captain of UTPD, said participants will endure a variety of training situations.
Verett warned the almost 200 trainees about the tunnel vision and auditory exclusion they can expect from adrenaline rushes during the tests. The trainees use a modified gun that shoots soap bullets combined with dye to provide negative reinforcement when hit, he said.
“Some of these scenarios require the rescuing of a hostage, some just need a bad guy neutralized,” Verett said. “Basically, a team of good guys goes in and fights a team of bad guys.”