EVERETT — Local agencies are making efforts to be better prepared for potential mass shootings, but their training last week was more virtual than traditional.
Law enforcement officers as well as firefighters and medics from Snohomish, King and Pierce counties took part in a three-day program at Angel of the Winds Arena earlier this week.
Participants were placed in a 3-D simulated situation with tasks such as neutralizing threats, establishing perimeters, moving and treating victims, talking to the media and establishing vehicle routes.
“It’s much more sophisticated than a video game,” said Don Schwab, division chief for the Everett Fire Department.
The idea is to prepare firefighters and medics to enter dangerous situations under protection from law enforcement so they can treat the wounded or rescue victims.
The program was presented by Orlando-based C3 Pathways, an emergency response training organization.
Company CEO and retired fire chief Bill Godfrey said 90 percent of shootings are over within 10 minutes. C3 Pathways focuses on getting victims help as soon as possible.
“There are two things that are going to kill people: the bad guy and the clock,” Godfrey said. “This process is about teaching (different agencies) how to work together to take time off the clock, so instead of taking an hour to get everyone transported, we can do it in 20 minutes.”
A number of agencies respond to mass casualty situations, so cooperation is important, Schwab said.
“When there are so many resources and such a short time frame, there’s an infrastructure that needs to be set up,” he said.
Officials completed eight shooting scenarios Wednesday. Locations included schools, airports and courthouses.
“It’s very difficult to simulate every aspect of each incident,” Schwab said. “The simulations allow us to look at different types of events and prepare differently for each one. We’re getting better and better at it.”
C3 Pathways uses past shootings to inform its trainings.
“Everything we’ve done here is based on research of not only incidents that have occurred, but how we, as an industry, have responded to those incidents: the challenges we’ve encountered, the common mistakes that have been made and how we overcome them,” Godfrey said.
Bringing the training to town was a six-month process, and Everett was one of 11 U.S. cities selected, Schwab said.
Last year, Everett police and firefighters had 10 mass shooting drills at the Everett Mall.