First responders prepare for the worst
Local police, fire and EMS conduct active shooter training at Rose State
By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
First-responders need to be ready for just about anything.
On Friday, they got practice in handling a crisis that seems all too common these days.
Rose State College hosted active shooter training at its student union for emergency responders in Midwest City. The event included Midwest City police and fire departments, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office and SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital – Midwest.
During the drill, police conducted a simulated “attack” on the Rose State campus in which about 10 to 15 participants were “wounded.” The student and staff actors received a card identifying their “injuries.”
A Midwest City police officer played the part of the shooter and walked across the campus mall shooting at students and Rose State employees before entering the Student Services Building and Jeanie Webb Student Union.
Officers neutralized the threat inside the union and proceeded to clear the campus. Firefighters and paramedics provided a faux triage with assessment and transportation of victim participants.
Midwest City Police Chief Sid Porter said his officers train regularly, but this exercise provided an opportunity to see how all the agencies work together.
“You can always do things better and it’s good to see how things come together when you have a full-scale exercise,” Porter said.
A training exercise had been on the mind of city and college officials for some time. They had partnered on similar events in the past, but it’d been several years due to the pandemic. Joedon Hughes, the Safety and Security Coordinator for Rose State, said college leaders welcomed the opportunity to host a training exercise.
“I think a lot of people can recognize that active assailants have been on the rise over the past decade,” he said. “Statistics support this and our college recognizes this. And we feel that conducting an exercise better prepares us if such an event were to occur.”
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order in June aimed at bolstering police and school responses to potential active shooters in wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. It required law enforcement to receive up-to-date active shooter training and directed schools to implement the Rave Panic button app and offer threat assessment training for teachers.
Midwest City police, fire and EMS completed Law Enforcement Active Shooter Response System (LASER) training in September. Rose State also implemented the RAVE app.
“We brought in three different agencies to experience how it would really work,” said Midwest City Fire Chief Bert Norton. “Rose State has done their training with their people on the Rave system. Midwest City police and fire have done training with coming in, securing the building, and getting out. And we brought the ambulance and hospital in because they wanted to be able to test a surge of their capabilities in the event that this happened.”
Debi Wagner, Midwest City emergency management director, said they started planning in October. They held monthly meetings with representatives from each of the agencies.
“It was important to me that the exercise be valuable for everyone who participated, so I worked with
each agency and department to make sure their objectives covered what they wanted to test,” Wagner said.
In addition to those taking part in the exercise, several other emergency managers, and people involved in higher education, county, municipal, and private sector observed the event.
Wagner said training and exercises are important to their overall preparedness.
“If you want to be a great football player, you don’t just read a book about football and expect to be able play without ever practicing or having someone coach you,” she said. “Exercises give us an opportunity to discover where there may be gaps in preparedness or capabilities that we don’t want to find after we’ve had a real incident. They are a safe, controlled way to “experience” an incident and test our response to it without any actual injury or damage.”
Wagner was pleased with the results on Friday.
“Like every exercise, this one illustrated the importance of good planning, of having strong relationships with community partners, and training together before a disaster happens,” she said.