Rocky Vista University Southern Utah campus participated in an active shooter training to help university staff and first responders practice how to respond to this type of emergency.
The active shooter functional exercise was a three hour, multi-jurisdictional, and multi-agency exercise that was conducted in the interior and exterior of the Rocky Vista University College of Medicine (COM) building. This exercise fulfilled the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education, Jeanne Clery Act. The purpose of the exercise was to assess and increase the ability of Rocky Vista University (RVU) and other local entities to efficiently and effectively respond to and manage an active shooter event.
Terry Meyer, Supervisor of Public Safety and Security for the Southern Utah Campus, worked with a number of agencies over the last several weeks to arrange this training, including Santa Clara/Ivins Police, Fire, and EMS; Washington County Sheriff’s Department; Dixie State University Police; Mercy Air (Nevada); Intermountain Life Flight; and Southwest Utah Public Health Department.
RVU employees were briefed before the active shooter training and informed that they must decide whether to run (evacuate) or shelter-in-place. Fighting was not an option in this scenario, as this was a training exercise. As the training began, the employees heard the gunshots and proceeded to their shelter rooms or hid in their offices under their desks. Evaluators were stationed in strategic areas throughout the building in order to grade and gave feedback to RVU employees.
The training included a simulated active shooter wearing camouflage and a bulletproof vest who shot blanks inside the RVU building and engaged with the police officers during the exercise. One intent of the training was to teach officers how to multitask and deal with distractions during an emergency. As officers entered the building, they discovered actors who were “wounded” on the ground, crying and asking for help. In addition to the shooter, a fake bomb was in place.
The active shooter training scenario was acted out approximately a dozen times, as there were more than 20 officers who entered the building in pairs. Each time the scenario was run, police officers searched for the shooter and apprehended him. Once the police had managed the situation and cleared the building, the fire department and emergency medical services trainees came in to practice triage and tend to the “wounded” actors. First responders practiced locating the most critically injured patients in order to treat them first. Two of the “wounded” actors were actually loaded into the Intermountain Life Flight and Mercy Air (Nevada) helicopters that flew in for the event.
The drill was a valuable learning experience for RVU employees and participants from the aforementioned agencies. While mistakes were made during the drill, a debriefing following the drill allowed participants to process these mistakes and actions that can be taken in the future to increase the effectiveness of participants’ responses.