I always feel bad when I don’t make an appearance at the office during the workweek, but being in the field is always fun and today was quite interesting.
This morning I attended a live shooter/hostage demonstration at Sunset Elementary school and witnessed the Airway Heights police and fire departments work with agencies from Cheney, Medical Lake, Spokane Fire District 10, Fairchild Air Force Base, American Medical Response and Eastern Washington University. The Airway Heights departments normally have these type of scenarios, but this was the first time working with several outside units, according to police chief Lee Bennett.
The training consisted of two separate scenarios.
The first involved police officers going through the hallways as victims – portrayed by actors wearing prosthetics – screamed for help. Once the officers reached a classroom, they neutralized the shooter.
After the shooter was secure, firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMT) came in and monitored the casualties. Victims that were able to walk were guided to the casualty collection point while those who were wounded, were dragged to the area. Causalities that were dead were left where they were.
After casualties were tended to outside, the drill was finished and everyone went inside for a debriefing. Officers discussed communication issues and some technical difficulties. EWU police officer Bryan Dornbos commended the officers for communication.
The second scenario introduced two shooters. After a lockdown was initiated, officers went through the building as victims continued to scream. When they reached the 600 wing and neutralized a suspect in a classroom, a third shooter came from one of the faculty bathrooms and fired on the officers. Police were able to take him down.
During the second debriefing, the law enforcement side was able to quickly apprehend the suspect in two minutes while the firefighters were able to get everyone to safety. Everyone operated on a two-channel radio system and it seemed to flow better.
From my perspective, both drills seemed to go smoothly despite it being everyone’s first time. I’m sure these teams will become more efficient with practice.