Bloomfield Hills Schools and the Bloomfield Township Police and Fire Departments recently held critical incident training.

Bloomfield Hills Schools and the Bloomfield Township Police and Fire Departments recently held critical incident training.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Incident training at schools helps prep emergency personnel

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 1, 2023

BLOOMFIELD HILLS/BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Bloomfield Hills Schools and the Bloomfield Township Police and Fire Departments partnered to complete a comprehensive critical incident training Aug. 30.

The exercise, which took place at Bloomfield Hills High School, gave emergency personnel and school staff the opportunity to work and learn together.

“For the police agency and our fire agency, it is a test of what we have been preparing for and training for for years,” Bloomfield Township Police Chief James Gallagher said. “For the school district, it’s an opportunity to give confidence to the teachers that they know what they are doing with all the training they’ve received through ALICE.”

ALICE is an acronym for “alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.”

This comprehensive exercise required a year of planning by Bloomfield Township’s head of reality based training, Lt. Mike Buczek, and BHS Administrator of Public Safety Patrick Sidge.

Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and Bloomfield Hills Schools staff members participated in the exercise.

“It could be considered training, but we are really considering it as a test to identify what our strengths are in these situations, what our weaknesses are, and where opportunities are to improve,” Gallagher said. “We train on this stuff all the time.”

While Bloomfield Township was the host agency, other local agencies participated in the exercise to make it as realistic as possible.

Bloomfield Township is a part of Oakland County Tactical Response Consortium, called OakTac, which prepares Oakland county agencies for mutual aid response.

OakTac provides uniform training and exercises to strengthen the county’s capabilities in emergency situations.

The Bloomfield Township Police Department regularly trains in active shooter response, including training in implicit bias and de-escalation, defensive tactics, weapons, medical training and other reality-based drills.

Firefighters and paramedics prepare through mass casualty response, de-escalation and rescue training.

“We have been training for years,” Bloomfield Township Fire Chief John LeRoy said. “Now is the time to apply it and make sure it works, and if it doesn’t, make changes so that it will work.”

Local fire departments in the Oakway mutual aid group that connects local departments to improve the county’s emergency response will also be present at the exercise.

Bloomfield Hills Schools staff and students undergo  ALICE training throughout the school year, some of which is conducted by the Bloomfield Township Police Department.

Each year, Oak Tac officers attend the North American Active Assailant Conference at Woodside Bible Church in Troy. During this three-day conference, departments and leadership across the world who have responded to some sort of critical incident gather to discuss what what went well and what did not.

Gallagher said the theme they often see is the importance of exposure through training. He said the department wants the school community to know that they are prepared to take action.

“Our officers and our first responders are going in to neutralize the threat and to save as many lives as they can,” Gallagher said.