Investigators: Years of active shooter training saved lives in shooting at Oneida Casino Complex

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 5:20 PM CDT
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - While the investigation into the shooting at the Oneida Casino Complex continues, the police agencies involved are now focusing on their response Saturday night to see if the training they’ve worked on for years worked and on what they can improve..

“I wasn’t worried about us taking care of the situation, I was more concerned... (thinking) I hope we can stop him before he hurts multiple people,” says Captain Dan Sandberg with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s the first thing that went through my mind is I hope they stop him before he can hurt even more people.”

When Sandberg received the phone call Saturday night telling him there was an active shooter, his first thought went to the people inside, knowing they would be dealing with a big crowd in an even bigger, spaced-out venue.

While he worried about the officers running toward the gunfire, he had confidence they would act quickly and stop the threat.

It’s what they’ve trained for, countless times, for years.

“They’re the ones going in there and taking care of it. They just did exactly what their training taught them to do,” says Sandberg.

Since 2013, agencies across Brown County have been training together, to drop what they’re doing when the call comes in and just go.

When they arrive, rank and agency don’t matter - stopping the shooting, then stopping the bleeding, become their priority.

Sandberg says that happened and made all the difference.

“They’re dumping their egos and allowing people that have that knowledge to take charge, and that’s a good thing in law enforcement nowadays,” he says

Law enforcement have been training how to become medics, too, when it’s not yet safe enough for rescue crews to move into a scene.

That was the case Saturday night.

As soon as officers arrived, they started moving toward the restaurant in teams, knowing there were people who needed help.

“We had at least three or four officers that were performing CPR for extended time because we had to make sure the scene was secure to bring the rescue task force in and organize that unit,” says Sandberg, adding officers performed CPR for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

While the initial response went as planned, Sandberg says there’s always room for improvement, and that may come from the management and command side and could include more training and detailed planning to deal with large crowds of people who witnessed the incident unfolding.

“Now, what do you do with all the citizens that are stranded inside the building? Outside the building? We had a lot of older people that had medical conditions or an inability to walk very far and stuff like that. That all really complicated the problem for us on Saturday night,” says Sandberg.

Law enforcement agencies will soon gather to carefully review their response and suggest additional training needs, but hope to never put them to use.

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