In light of Sandy Hook and other recent shootings, law enforcement and emergency responders in Northwest Florida took part in a shooting drill designed to keep authorities prepared.
The shooting exercise began Tuesday, February 18, 2014 in Okaloosa County, Florida.
Ryan Christen, event director, says authorities are using the results to prepare for the real thing.
“We’ve always been prepared for a hostile event but it seems they’re happening more frequently. As a result, some of the response techniques are changing,” said Christen, “Nationally, we’re looking at new ways to manage these events and to get responders in quicker to perform rescues.”
The active shooter exercise began with a lone gunman entering the former Okaloosa County Courthouse with a number of civilians inside.
After numerous simulated shootings took place, the suspect barricaded himself with hostages. Police rushed in to get a handle on the situation and several were shot in the process.
While police cleared safe areas and pulled out wounded, firefighters risked their safety to put out a blaze and tend to the injured.
After several tense minutes, the shooter called 911. He threatened to kill his hostages and blow up homemade bombs.
Stopping the suspect became top priority for the SWAT team, who moved in on him and took him down.
Authorities then worked to get the remaining hostages out and get them to medical treatment.
Evaluators collected data during the exercise, which is used to improve coordination and improve response guidelines.
Often, law enforcement uses the latest in technology to ensure their officers are as safe as possible. That’s why they use tactical robots to go ahead and survey for potential dangers before the police get to them.
The drill also tested officers reactions to bomb threats, which the robots often search for using their mounted cameras.
“It adds an element of realism and we can get better data because they act realistically. We want a response model in place before we have to deal with a threat,” Christen said.
The planning for the exercise began in November of last year and representatives from area hospitals, law enforcement, fire departments,
EMS, and Okaloosa County Emergency Management have carefully planned their involvement.
The event continues on Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20, 2014.