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‘Active shooter’ exercise at OC helps train for real-life event

A Washington State Patrol Trooper takes one of the “suspects” into custody during last Friday’s Department of Homeland Security training exercise at Olympic College in Bremerton. - Kevan Moore
A Washington State Patrol Trooper takes one of the “suspects” into custody during last Friday’s Department of Homeland Security training exercise at Olympic College in Bremerton.
— image credit: Kevan Moore

A Department of Homeland Security “active shooter” drill at Olympic College this past Friday involved hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters and medics and more than 100 volunteer actors from all over Kitsap County.

Following a safety briefing and the placement of actors, an officer in an olive drab uniform fired several simulated shots from a rifle outside the college’s Science and Technology building. The “shooter” then entered the building and the drill was underway. A few minutes later, dozens of students from the Washington Youth Academy and other actors fled out of the front of the building as responding officers made their way inside.

More officers responded and dozens of medics and ambulances also arrived on scene to treat the “wounded” actors in a triage area set up in the school’s parking lot. Several of the actors were then transported to the hospital. Several of the actors were also “killed” during the training exercise.

Susan May, a program coordinator and public information officer with the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management, talked about the importance of the exercise.

“Plans and procedures are useless unless you get the chance to work with each agency, jurisdiction and organization, and understand what their role and responsibility is to an incident,” said May. “People move on, tactics and processes change, so we must all continue to exercise together to save lives and ensure everyone’s safety.”

May said each drill that is done like the one held Friday at OC is designed to be a little more complex and a little more realistic.

“We learn from other similar events and take those lessons and apply them here,” said May. “This is a never-ending activity. With schools, your population (staff and student) is ever- changing, requiring at least a certain amount of attention given to training for disaster preparedness and response. With each practice, it is hoped that if an incident occurs, that we will prevent any loss of life or injuries by anticipating actions and stopping them from happening.”

Olympic College President David Mitchell also talked about the importance of the exercise.

“Collaboration with local agencies enhances not only the safety and security of our students and employees but institutions throughout the region and our surrounding communities,” he said. “The college’s intent is not to alarm or frighten students and staff but to prepare them to respond. Students and staff have learned how to respond to fire and severe weather alerts, they also need to be aware of this type of event.”

May said she was pleased with the way that exercise was conducted. She also noted that officials are still reviewing the exercise and “should have some lessons learned by the middle of October.”

 

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