Valley News -

By Jeff Pack

Multiple agencies participate in active shooter drill


Last updated 11/6/2018 at 3:11pm

Shane Gibson

Area firefighter-paramedics carry dummies portraying injured or deceased victims of a mass shooting during a training drill at Murrieta Mesa High School, Oct. 23.

Hosted by the Riverside County Emergency Management Department and involving emergency responders from all over Southern California, an active shooter and mass casualty drill was held Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Murrieta Mesa High School.

Officials said the training exercise was designed to test the capabilities of rescue teams, communication capabilities, resource coordination and expedited triage, treatment and transport during a mass casualty incident.

"It is vital that we test the techniques and procedures to be able to transport a large number of patients, although we hope we never have to use them," Ramon Leon, deputy director for Riverside County Emergency Management Department, said. "The collaborative efforts of all those involved today showed the importance of working together."

In addition to the Emergency Management Department, there were officials from Murrieta Fire and Rescue, Murrieta Police Department and Murrieta Valley Unified School District, along with American Medical Response and responders from San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The drill, which took place after school let out at Murrieta Mesa, simulated the aftermath of an active shooter who attacked theater students on the Murrieta campus.

The exercise didn't involve law enforcement in suppressing the shooter on the scene. According to officials, the drill picked up at the 20-minute mark of the incident.

When the staged incident started, officials said a handful of victims began limping out to a quad area near the front of the school, causing a response from rescue workers to the campus, recovering victims with injuries for evaluation. Ambulances, also participating in the drill, transported victims to local hospitals.

Dozens of students acting as victims, wore makeup and prosthetics to simulate injuries in the drill, giving emergency responders the chance to work on rescue and evaluation procedures.

"The mass casualty drill is a critical component to addressing school safety," Dale Velk, director of student safety for the Murrieta Valley Unified School District said. "It is the perfect opportunity for our first responders and school community to train and fine tune the skills needed in today's time to be prepared for an incident of a large magnitude. Regardless of the unfortunate incidents that have caused us to prepare for this type of tragedy, we are grateful for our safety partnerships and are confident in the services they provide our school community."

Shane Gibson

Murrieta Mesa High School drama students prepare to portray victims of a mass casualty training drill, Oct. 23.

Officials said a medical helicopter landed on a nearby baseball field to transport one of the more seriously injured victims to the hospital. Instead of a student actor, a high-tech mannequin was used for that portion of the drill.

A total of 40 victims were transported by more than 20 ambulances to the hospital during the 90-minute exercise, which they said was one of the largest of its kind in Riverside County history.

According to Murrieta Police Department Public Information Officer, Lt. Tony Conrad, the drill was a success. Even though law enforcement wasn't the focus of the exercise, the department provided security for different groups participating.

"It went very well," Conrad said. "We enjoy a really good relationship with Murrieta Fire and Rescue, and it was good to bring in all the allied agencies to work with us."

Jeff Pack can be reached at [email protected]


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