BLUEFIELD, Va. — Police, EMTs and firefighters converged Wednesday on a neighborhood college, however as an alternative of responding to an emergency, they have been studying extra about coping with risks and traumas of a mass capturing.
Native businesses met first Wednesday morning at Bluefield, Va. City Corridor to organize for a significant coaching train. Law enforcement officials and deputies have been issued particular semi-munitions pistols which have the identical weight and really feel as actual firearms, however hearth paint marker ammunition as an alternative of bullets. In a again workplace, volunteers have been being painted with make-up and faux blood to simulate gunshot wounds.
After being briefed by Lt. Ron Holt, college security officer with the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Workplace, police and different first responders staged at Graham Excessive College whereas preparations have been finalized at close by Graham Center College. An lively shooter situation was getting underway.
“What we’re doing right here in the present day is placing collectively a mock mass casualty drill,” mentioned Sheriff Brian Hieatt.”And this provides us a chance to work along with our regulation enforcement businesses, our EMS businesses on how we’d react and the way we’d work collectively if there was actually a mass catastrophe corresponding to this. We’re right here on the Bluefield (Va.) Police Division proper now, and we’re going to be at Graham Center College.”
One of many train’s targets was to present a number of businesses a chance to work intently with one another.
“That is working along with the Bluefield (Va.) Police Division and all our native EMS businesses; not solely Tazewell County, however Mercer County as nicely as a result of if we actually had a catastrophe this huge, we must get rescue squads from different businesses to come back in and assist if we had a number of victims who have been concerned in some sort of capturing,” Hieatt mentioned.
“And so that is one thing we do periodically in numerous colleges,” he added. “It additionally offers officers a very good alternative to go inside a faculty and see that faculty’s structure; perhaps officers who’ve by no means been in that exact college. There are a number of totally different angles you’ll be able to take a look at that makes this good coaching for everyone.”
Mass shootings have occurred throughout the nation, so it’s essential to be prepared for such cases whereas hoping they by no means occur domestically.
“That is essential as a result of we have to notice despite the fact that we reside in a rural space, a extremely good neighborhood, we can not say that is one thing that may not occur right here. This might occur right here simply because it might occur in a bigger space or an enormous metropolis, so preparedness is the important thing, realizing the way to react,” Hieatt mentioned. “That is additionally good coaching for our 911 middle as a result of when one thing like this occurs, you begin getting bombarded with 911 calls.”
The officers and deputies within the coaching train didn’t know what to anticipate once they arrived on the scene, mentioned Chief Shane Gunter with the Bluefield, Va. Police Division.
“We’re going to reply similar to we’re on a traditional patrol day, and nobody’s conscious of what the decision goes to be and as soon as they get that decision, they’re simply going to reply as they usually would,” Gunter mentioned earlier than the train began.
“Arriving on the scene, the person officer, if there’s an lively shooter, goes to go in and attempt to eradicate the menace instantly,” Gunter mentioned. “If there’s time, as soon as we now have extra individuals on scene, any individual will take a command function if it’s a sergeant, captain, chief, sheriff, whoever; it simply is determined by the management there on the time. However attending to the menace and eliminating it’s the particular person officer’s accountability.”
Like Sheriff Hieatt, Chief Gunter mentioned mass shootings can happen wherever.
“It’s essential for individuals to comprehend that though we’re a small space, it may well occur in our yard,” Gunter acknowledged. “Thank God it hasn’t but, however we simply need to be ready one of the best we are able to regardless of the scale of your city, metropolis, no matter. You’ve bought to be prepared.”
The train helps native businesses establish deficiencies corresponding to issues with communications or discovering that native hearth departments want a common key to colleges, he added.
Rescue squads and hearth departments from each Tazewell County and Mercer County took half within the train. Tazewell County EMS, the Bluefield Rescue Squad, Bluefield, Va. Hearth Division, Bluefield Hearth Division, City of Tazewell Rescue and Tazewell County Emergency Administration participated.
Nursing college students with the Mercer County Technical Schooling Middle in Princeton performed the roles of gunshot victims and frantic dad and mom. Hieatt mentioned first responders discovered not solely to cope with an lively shooter scenario, however with upset dad and mom and media who arrive on the scene. The close by Bluefield ER and Princeton Group Hospital additionally participated by accepting the “wounded” at their amenities for therapy.
Cpl. Wes Mitchell with the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Workplace performed the function of the shooter. He suggested volunteers inside the college to put on their foam ear protectors.
“I’ve bought a clean gun that feels like an actual gun,” he mentioned, including when requested concerning the train’s advantages, that it helps patrol officers and college useful resource officers study to “talk and function below stress as a single cohesive unit.”
Superintendent Chris Stacy of Tazewell County Colleges noticed Wednesday’s train.
“The trainings like in the present day, sadly, are wanted. That is the world we reside in,” Stacy mentioned when the coaching concluded. “We’ve Lt. Holt, our faculty safety officer. He oversees our faculty safety, however he coordinates all of the actions like we had in the present day. “
“It’s one thing we attempt to follow, and God assist us we by no means need to implement any of our insurance policies, however we do imagine that follow helps us coordinate,” he mentioned.
Lecturers bear lively shooter coaching, and every year the college system tries to replace safety insurance policies, Stacy mentioned. Lecturers even have a cellphone app known as Rave that lets them instantly alert others of their college and 911 if they’ve a shooter emergency or every other emergency corresponding to a fireplace or a medical name.
“Total, it went rather well,” Holt mentioned when the train concluded. “The communication in between all of the businesses concerned was wonderful. We’ve had mass causality incidents we’ve labored by up to now so far as coaching, and that is in all probability one of the best one which we’ve placed on but. and that’s not by chance. There’s quite a lot of work there. We work collectively nicely between the sheriff’s workplace and the Bluefield PD and Rescue. There’s quite a lot of coaching and preparation was concerned.”
Officers are educated to hunt out a shooter instantly once they arrive at a scene.
“We’re educated if we all know there’s reside hearth in a faculty, if we all know there’s a menace, it’s known as a direct to menace situation,” Holt mentioned. “The officers that originally responded did a beautiful job. They adopted their coaching and it couldn’t have went off any higher.”
— Contact Greg Jordan at [email protected]