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RH finest train with paintball guns, masks
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Richmond Hill police got in some realistic training last week. Shown from left to right, Richard McMannaway as a bank robber turned hostage taker with responding officer Wendell Jarrell, bank robber Cpl. Doug Sahlberg and responding officer Paul Carter.
Richmond Hill’s finest dealt with some tough calls last week.
Officers with the Richmond Hill Police Department spent Sept. 21 and 23 on Fort Stewart, armed with paintball guns and wearing safety masks while dealing with bank robbers and hostage takers.
At the same time, firefighters with the Richmond Hill Fire Department worked on their rescue skills.
Both departments were at Fort Stewart’s Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, a mock town used by 3rd Infantry Division soldiers to train for deployment.
Firefighters went through a number of exercises aimed at “sharpening up our skills,” said RHFD training officer Capt. Andy Burriss.
“Basically we were able to do everything but burn the place down and spray water,” Burriss said. “It’s the most realistic training we’ve had without a real fire. We’re real pleased with it and hope to do it again.” 
While firefighters were staging rescues, police were answering calls that ranged from the mundane to the dangerous without knowing what was going to happen beforehand.
The idea was to make the training “as realistic as possible,” according to Richmond Hill Police Department training officer Lt. Jason Sakelarios.
“The goal of the training was to assess officers’ communication and teamwork skills,” Sakelarios said. “And their supervisors were assessed on their supervisory skills in high risk situations. We were looking at things, such as how well does the shift itself communicate with each other and how well does a supervisor manage his own people when a dangerous call goes down.”
The department’s entire force – 30 officers total – attended the training during one of four half-day sessions, each of which involved nine scenarios per shift.
During the sessions, officers were expected to handle calls just as they would in real life – which included following the same guidelines officers follow on the streets. Cameras were everywhere, recording what took place. Police were then able to watch what they did and critique it.
Overall,  police fared well. “We were able to identify things a shift might need to improve on, but also many of the things they were doing well,” said Sakelarios, who noted this was his first time putting together such an exercise. “It was a learning experience for me as well.”
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