Meridian first responders conduct mock campus shooting

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by Natalie Podgorski

NWCN.com

Posted on July 23, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 8:26 AM

MERIDIAN --  For law enforcement agencies across the country, the tragic mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado is a tragic reminder that they have to be prepared for the worst. 

That's why on Monday in Meridian, firefighters, police officers and paramedics got together at Idaho State University for a joint training exercise to make sure all were ready to handle a similar emergency. 

Despite the uncanny timing of the drill, the university and law enforcement agencies say they had been planning the event for more than a year.

"It is critical to our faculty, staff and students to have an idea of what they should do," said Stephen Chatterton, ISU's Director of the university's department of public safety.

The university and law enforcement wanted the training to be as lifelike as possible.

"Our officers responding to this incident today had no idea what the incident was going to be until it started coming out over the radio," said Lieutenant Jamie Leslie with the Meridian Police Department.

When the drill started, officers were told an angry husband had confronted his wife on campus and shot four people.

"Even though you know it is training and it is a scenario, if you have good role players it almost feels like the real thing," said Geoff Rowe, a negotiator with the Meridian Police Department.

Those participating in the drill said every aspect was designed to the test technical skills of first responders, and to see how well law enforcement would work with the university. The training was also the first time the university had tested its safety protocols with law enforcement. 

"In any of these situations the key is communication -- that is what it really boils down to if you are going to be effective," said Rowe.

During this training, officers were able to save the people inside and get control of the shooter. 

"The incident we had in Colorado last week was one of those tragic reminders that this training is important," said Lt. Leslie. "Our officers can be called on at any moments notice to respond to a situation similar to that."

In other words, responders like Leslie hope this training can make them more prepared.
 
ISU also hopes that the training will make them more prepared for a real emergency that could happen on campus. 

"I guess it just shows that we need to practice for the worst case things that might happen," said Chatterton.

Once the training was over, first responders and university staff sat down and talked about what went well, and what should be done differently so in a situation of this type they would be as ready as possible.

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