Carson residents passing the courthouse on Sunday probably thought something horrible had just occurred.
There were police vehicles from Carson City, Douglas and Lyon counties, fire trucks as well, a command center and even the Care Flight medical helicopter parked blocking Musser Street.
Instead of a disaster, it was a training exercise for all those agencies and the employees who work at the courthouse. Specifically, it was training for the possibility that someone enters the courthouse with the intention of harming somebody.
“It’s really kind of sad we have to train for these kind of events,” said Max Cortes, court administrator.
But she said they have to be pro-active because, “it’s not until you do a drill that you find out how you’re going to react.”
Sheriff Kenny Furlong said the training, both on the 15th and this past Sunday was very successful because it was set up to be as realistic as possible.
“These exercises are designed to push your resources to the breaking point,” he said. “We had active assailants, victims both injured and dead. It really requires the police and fire to work together to get people out of the building.”
For purposes of the scenario, he said there were five dead and 10 wounded. Everyone participated including all four judges.
He said, in fact, it worked so well that, “we were getting victims out in a matter of minutes.”
Furlong said that’s critical because getting victims out of the building that is under attack and to medical care is the key to their survival.
During the process, Furlong said everyone from the first responders to security staff and law enforcement, Carson dispatchers and employees all learned something — especially how confusing a situation like that can be and how they personally react to it
One key thing, according to Cate Summers of the alternative sentencing program, is that radio reception inside the thick-walled courtrooms is very weak.
Furlong said that’s a problem because, “communications will almost always if now 100 percent of the time be a challenge.”
He said the goal is to further improve what he said is a very strong combined response team that brings all the agencies involved in a major incident together.
“This takes it to a much higher degree,” Furlong said. “It’s expensive but it’s a necessary function of public safety. We pushed everybody to the point of sinking, which magnifies the problems.”