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Omaha Police host crisis communication training: 'We want to stress people out in a safe place'

Posted at 6:36 PM, Oct 27, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — When a crisis occurs anxiety, stress and questions start to build up. But for those in charge of saving lives, what strategies keep the greatest number of people safe? That's why the Omaha Police Department hosted a day-long training on advanced crisis communications.

An active shooter simulation based at the CHI Health Center: That's the scene that Julie Parker has set for local law enforcement and public communications experts to work through together.

"We want to stress people out in a safe place and make them uncomfortable so that they've been through something somewhat realistic to what could occur," said Julie Parker, CEO and president of Julie Parker Communications.

The goal is to work on communication between first responders and those in the community when something serious happens.

"The quicker and the better and the more synergy that we have the safer the public is," said Chief Todd Schmaderer with the Omaha Police Department.

The exercise simulated a youth sports tournament that developed into an emergency, complete with mock 911 calls, news conferences, and strategic responses that involved using social media.

"It's certainly a place to learn and have a conversation instead of being told what's right and wrong," said Elizabeth Power, the director of communications and engagement with Westside Community Schools.

When it comes to a crisis, it's a collective effort which is why Omaha Police invited members from four local school districts, the Omaha Fire Department, CHI hospitals, and others who work in communications to the training.

"Anything that happens in the future, we're just better for it by practicing and having difficult conversations and working things out right now instead of in the moment when we need to know what's going on," said Power.

In this case, practice may not always make perfect but at least it could help save more lives.

"And how do you develop that calm? You develop that calmness and that professionalism from working together and simulating things that occur before they happen," said Chief Schmaderer.

Omaha Police do a couple of different training's a year to prepare for situations that arise, but this is the biggest one this year.

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