Chaos, blood, the deafening echo of gunshots; this is what one can expect in an active shooter situation and Carson City wants to make sure it’s ready if the situation arises.
Various local public safety organizations gathered Wednesday night to participate in a multi-agency active shooter training drill.
The purpose of the event is to prepare law enforcement agencies in the event of an active shooter incident. According to the FBI, between 2000 and 2016, nationwide there were 200 reported incidents that met the criteria of an active shooter event. Six of those incidents were in Northern Nevada.
“One of the most important things is preparedness,” said Dan Gordon of the Nevada Highway Patrol. “We in law enforcement have to be ready, we’ve had incidents that have occurred all over the last several years especially with incidents with political figures so we can never be too prepared for a situation.”
Agencies such as the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department, Nevada Highway Patrol, Capitol Police, Office of the Attorney General, Nevada Legislative Police Department and Nevada Supreme Court Marshals and more were present for the drill. The event was hosted by the Department of Public Safety Capitol Police Division.
One of the challenges the training is meant to address is a multitude of agencies working together during one incident.
“A lot of this drill has to do with interagency cooperation so that all agencies involved are on one page,” Gordon said.
Thus, communication is key, Gordon said. If an incident like this were to occur, especially in a place with a number of political figures, all of the agencies need know what to do as well as who needs to be doing what.
The drill consisted of three scenarios containing one and two assailants on the Capitol Grounds, with a multitude of casualties and injuries.
“Our goal is to stop the killing and dying as quickly as possible,” said Carson City Sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Gomes. “These are designed to stop and secure the threat.”
One unique aspect of the Carson response is the use of tactical medics who can enter a “warm zone” to quickly start treating life threatening injuries sustained during an incident.
“This helps so we aren’t staged (outside the safe zone) until the entire building is cleared,” said Carson Fire SWAT medic Jon Pedrini. “Now we can get medics in quickly unlike in the past where we couldn’t get in until it is too late.”
These medics are deputized by the Sheriff’s Office so they’re able to go in armed and ready to help the wounded. They won’t be on the front lines, but they now no longer have to wait additional precious minutes to get into an area to start treatment.
“(The medics) know I am going to risk my life to keep him alive so he can save a life,” Gomes said. “If we all didn’t have a good working relationship, we wouldn’t be able to do what we can.”
Active shooter incidents like the Columbine school shooting in 1999 took medics and officers nearly an hour to enter the building after the first dispatch. Now with trainings like these, response times are as low as 10 minutes.
“It is a fluid situation, we don’t know what we have until we get people on scene to assess the incident and begin to dictate things,” Gordon said. “We want to get the threat stopped and evacuations started in a good time frame.”