Wisconsin first responders say 5th annual active threat response conference matters now more than ever

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A number of first responders gathered at the Wisconsin Active Threat Integrated Response Conference's two-day event to learn and teach each other how to respond during an active shooting situation.

First responders said they're walking around with heavier hearts after the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas.

"The importance of this was built years ago but that hitting home just now kind of adds value to what we're doing," said Chris Tarmann, Captain UW-Oshkosh Police Department, who is also part of the conference committee.

Law enforcement and Emergency services, as well as speakers who have been in active shooting situations, all attended the 5th annual conference. The first day they focused on active threat training. Classes were led by Michael Bolender of Peaceful Warrior Training Group.

"I think it's incredibly important for them just to be educated on prevention alternatives but also response alternatives, and then how to manage that incident," said Bolender.

Training hits deeper for Bolender, who has witnessed two mass shootings. The one that jump started his company.

"It becomes very personal and it's not just something you study, it's not just a job. It really is a passion," said Bolender.

Bolender's training classes teach police officers how to maneuver hallways, when to enter buildings, how to respond to a call and what that call will look like during an active shooting situation as well as what to look for when in that situation.

According to the FBI, mass shootings are up by 50% in 2021. Bolender said prevention is key, saying if you know something or see something, say something.

On their last day of the conference, he said they'll leave better prepared but hope the call never comes.

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