Police Call ‘Shooter Drill’ a Success

    A mock victim nurses his “moulage” wound after a “shooter drill” that took place at the School of Medicine. The drill was modeled after the Virginia Tech shootings. (Will Parson/Guardian)

    On Oct. 16, UCSD underwent an “active shooter drill” in
    which campus emergency personnel role-played a scenario similar to the
    shootings that occurred at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    in April. UCSD security officials are calling the campus’ response a success,
    with the exception of some inter-department communication problems that may
    have delayed emergency response time.

    San Diego
    police and fire departments joined campus officers to assist in the activity,
    as well as volunteers playing the roles of the victims.

    An area of UCSD School of Medicine between the Leichtag
    building and the Biomedical Library was cordoned off to foot traffic as the
    drill was being conducted. A great number of Campus Emergency Response Team
    members wearing yellow vests could be seen in the area.

    The purpose of the drill was to test how the campus would be
    able to handle a situation similar to the Virginia Tech shootings that killed
    33 students and staff members.

    “Basically, we do it to expose our weaknesses,” said Paul
    Mueller, a public information officer with UCSD communications. “We’re trying
    to improve our program all the time.”

    The S.W.A.T. officer who playacted the shooter role began
    his mock rampage near the student services area, and left two individuals as
    mock victims there. Then, at about 10 a.m., he made his way down to the medical
    school and entered the Leitchtag building, which the medical school had agreed
    to provide for the drill.

    According to UCSD Police Lt. David Rose, the drill’s purpose
    was to evaluate how responders would react to a real crisis. Police then had to
    figure out where the shooter had gone after the initial shooting.

    After they received reports that he was around the medical
    complex and had entered Leitchtag, police guarded the exits to the building as
    volunteers came out with their hands up. They were then frisked by police, just
    as they would be in a real event. Some of the people exiting the building
    pretended to be wounded.

    There were nine mock victims in total: two on Library Walk
    and seven in the Leitchtag building. The
    mock victims had fake wounds known as “moulage” wounds, with the exceptions of
    the two Library Walk victims so people on campus would not be alarmed.

    The victims were then put on stretchers and taken to Thornton Hospital by the San Diego Fire
    Department, enabling the hospital to practice receiving mass casualties.

    In order to role-play having to take down a potential
    shooter, several armed police officers entered the building with their guns
    drawn. At approximately 10:08 a.m., two blanks were fired as a way for the
    person role playing the shooter to signal to police that he was inside the
    building. At approximately 10:15 a.m. police confirmed that the two gunmen — it
    was later revealed that there was more than one mock shooter — had been taken
    into custody, and later, according to the scenario, confirmed to be
    “dead.”

    Rose said a large part of the exercise was to see how well
    campus police would be able to work in tandem with San Diego police in the event of an
    emergency. However, he noted that one of the areas in need of improvement was
    the integration of separate radio systems of campus police officers and San Diego police.

    He said he was particularly impressed with the performance
    of CERT members who secured the perimeter of the drill site and helped triage
    victims.

    Despite these initial observations, Rose said that the drill
    needed to be further analyzed.

    During the drill, RIMAC Arena was designated to be the
    “reunification center.” In the event of a real shooting, the function of the
    location would be to update people worried about the event and to have a place
    for people to reunite with loved ones who had not been injured.

    At a post-event debriefing barbeque, Chancellor Marye Anne
    Fox was the first to address the crowd.

    “This was an important experience for all of us,” she said.
    “The safety of the students, staff and faculty are of paramount importance at
    this institution.”

    Fox also said that this drill would not be the last that the
    campus would hold, and that such exercises are only one way to prepare for
    emergencies.

    She also reminded the crowd about the new blue emergency
    towers on campus, which were tested during the course of the drill. The towers
    include a handset in the back that police can use to provide live broadcasts to
    people during an emergency, as well as loudspeakers and cameras.

    Emergency Services Manager Phillip Van Saun called the event
    an “outstanding success.”

    “I’m surprised at how well things went,” he said.

    In particular he expressed gratitude for Fox’s help, noting
    that her support made the drill possible. Van Saun has conducted other
    emergency drills in the past, including an earthquake drill in 2005.

    Van Saun said that although other campuses have conducted
    similar shooter drills, UCSD’s was particularly large in scale.

    “The goal is to make sure that we’ve done the most we can to
    take care of students, staff and faculty,” he said.

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