SWAT Team Responds to Farmstead for Intense Rural Training - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

SWAT Team Responds to Farmstead for Intense Rural Training

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An old farmstead south of Richardton serves as training grounds for the Southwest Tactical Team.

The SWAT team responds to a large area in the western part of the state, and faces some of the most dangerous situations of any law enforcement.

To prepare, they need to train for scary situations.

Amber Schatz takes you to an old abandoned farmstead where the SWAT team is packing a big something extra.

It's a quiet piece of country that might not see a lot of action, but things are about to pick up in rural Stark County.

"We were actually training for the worst case scenario, the officer could be called to, even a SWAT team for that matter, a downed officer, this scenario was a downed officer on a farmstead." says Sgt. Mike Hanel, Southwest Tactical Team.

Luckily this is just a training exercise, but it's designed after some real-life events the SWAT team has been called to.

"We've had two incidents now where it was a real farmstead, shots were fired and our guys are out in the open without cover, unfortunately stuff like that does happen in SW North Dakota." says Sgt. Hanel.

If it does again, they now have a not so secret weapon.

"It's a very formidable machine." says Sgt. Hanel.

The Bearcat is the newest member of the Southwest Tactical team.

"A scenario like this is exactly what a Bearcat is designed to do, it's an armored vehicle, it allows us to go into an area, make a successful rescue without a loss of life." says Sgt. Hanel.

"This is very realistic for us, we're not coming from a huge city or nothing like that, but something like this is very possible..." says Officer Jayden Peters.

Jayden Peters is a SWAT sniper volunteering his family's land for the training, but it's his brothers in arms that he's focused on.

"It gets to you, training or not, you hear officer down, it's one of your best friends, nothing you hopefully ever have to hear, reality it could happen somebody, the way you react now is the way you're going to react when it actually happens, that's why we're doing the training." says Officer Peters.

'If we've already done this in training and it comes time to the real thing it's just one less thing to have to get over mentally." says Sgt. Hanel.

Mental and physical training for what could be the last line of defense.

"When citizens call for help they call 911, they get the police, when the police get in trouble they call SWAT, and it's that sense of brotherhood, we want to take care of our own guys, we're that last line of defense between us and nothing so that's why a lot of guys want to be on SWAT to look out for other officers." says Sgt. Hanel.

Besides the bad guys, the SWAT team also had to battle record heat.

It reached a high of around 95 degrees during their training.

They had to take several water breaks, especially considering they wear about 60 pounds of gear.

If you see the Bearcat on the road, SWAT team leaders say they don't want you to think it necessarily means crime.

Rather that they have a presence in the southwest part of the state.

The Southwest Tactical team includes officers and deputies from Dickinson Police, Stark, Dunn and Hettinger County Sheriff's departments.

They've had the Bearcat since June.

It weighs nearly 20 thousand pounds and gets nine miles to the gallon.

The team has used it on one real call so far, a high risk search warrant.

They average around eight to ten high risk calls a year, and are on pace with that this year.

The Bearcat costs $240,000, and was funded mostly through a state land grant.

Another big piece of equipment makes the scenario very realistic.

The Spirit Lifeline helicopter participated in the training exercise by getting coordinates from SWAT members and actually landing in the very rural area.

The helicopter crew arrived in the field to pick up a simulated officer with a gunshot wound, an actual 170 pound dummy.

The SWAT team first performed critical care to the officer, before he was strapped to a backboard and taken by the lifeline crew.

Their next move was to fly the downed officer to the nearest critical care center.

Spirit Lifeline has been taking off out of Dickinson--since June.

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