BELGRADE — Trainers reminded two dozen or so staff members of Ridge View Elementary School on Wednesday night that, while it was a safe, controlled environment, running through a scenario where an armed intruder bursts into their classroom can really get their adrenaline pumping.

And it did.

“I didn’t realize how real the situations would be,” said third-grade teacher Corie Love. “It was crazy.”

“This is intended to be a learning experience to see your classroom with a whole new set of eyes,” said Belgrade Police Detective Cory Welch.

The training was put on by the Belgrade Police Department, Belgrade School District, Montana National Guard and the Central Valley Fire Department. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office also helped plan this week’s training.

“Run, lock, fight” training is a curriculum created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Trainings in Belgrade have already taken place at Belgrade High School, Heck-Quaw Elementary School and at city hall. In the coming months, staff at Belgrade Middle School and Saddle Peak Elementary will receive the same training.

At Ridge View, training started Tuesday with presentations on everything from statistics about mass shootings to information on prior events. Teachers also learned first aid, unarmed self defense, weapons disarming and room barricading.

And on Wednesday, all of that came together with live scenarios.

Breaking up into three groups, teachers gathered in classrooms and took turns responding to an armed intruder in the three ways instructors taught them.

A man dressed in big, black padding, sporting a Montana Tech Orediggers football helmet and carrying a plastic training rifle would burst into one of the rooms, a Belgrade detective shooting off blanks from a starter pistol behind him.

Teachers in the room quickly jumped into action, tackling the bad guy to the ground.

The teachers would then practice rendering aid to one of the instructors who was “shot” while others went to call 911.

Meanwhile, teachers in the other classrooms practiced either barricading their classrooms or running to get help.

All of this in about a minute and a half.

After the simulation, Welch asked the teachers for feedback.

“How quickly did that escalate?” Welch said.

It was scary, some said. One teacher said she felt like she reacted differently than she would if her kids were in the classroom. Others were full of questions.

“We want to give you the tools so you affect a positive outcome,” Welch told the staff.

Love was one of the teachers who attacked the intruder as he came into her classroom during the simulation.

“It goes so fast. I can’t even tell you what went through my mind,” she said. “When you’re in the situation, it’s a lot different.”

Love said it was a good training that helps prepare teachers for these horrible situations.

Ridge View Principal Mat Johnson said he was impressed with what he saw from his staff throughout the training.

“I think the teachers have been really responsive to it,” Johnston said. “You train for the worst-case scenario and hope it never happens.”

Johnston said this type of training empowers teachers and, in the event of these worst-case scenarios, gives them “the awareness that you can do something. You don’t have to feel helpless.”

At the end of Wednesday’s training, Randy Radke, a high school teacher and the Belgrade School District’s emergency planner, told the teachers that the odds of having a shooting in their school are small.

“We’re just trying to give you the tools in case it does,” he said.

Whitney Bermes can be reached at or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.

Whitney Bermes is the city editor and covers cops and courts for the Chronicle.

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