Pasadena’s First Responders Train for School Shooting

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4:48 am | August 8, 2013

Shots were fired, students ran screaming and victims were carried out of Washington Middle School during a mock exercise to train first responders what to do should a shooting rampage ever occur in the Pasadena Unified School District.

This week the Pasadena Police Department and Pasadena Fire Department in conjunction with the Pasadena Unified School District are conducting an active shooter training exercises at the school, which is closed for summer.

“This creates a platform for our fire department and our schools and police officers to work together in a harmonious effort in a very stressful circumstance in the unforeseen tragedy that one of the shootings would occur on our campuses,” Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said. “Our officers will have a better idea of what to do and how to respond and the fire department will have a better idea of how they can assist as well.”

First Responders worked through mock active shooter scenarios that simulated the realistic problems associated with emergency response and the management of these high risk and dynamic situations.

To make the scenario as real as possible this dispatch came over the radio, sending out two squads of police officers, paramedics, and firemen:

Two shots fired 1505 N Marengo Washington Middle School. Numerous shots fired in the A building, possibly coming from the library. Multiple victims down, PUSD has been notified and is in enroute. The suspects are two males, first is a while male in his 30s 5 11 210lbs wearing a long green sleeve shirt, khaki pants. The second is a male Hispanic late twenties, 5 10 185 pounds wearing a white shirt, black pants, black and white shoes.

“There’s shots being fired inside that’s very dynamic; shots from a non-real firearm. All those things that are occurring make it very stressful for the officer and tries to replicate the environment the best we can,” Sanchez said.

Students involved in the police explorer program as well as the Pasadena Ambassador program and ROTC students role-played as victims escaping the building. The “seriously injured” were brought out by the force protection squad to the trauma area. The team also faced tactical situations liking breaching locked doors to get to the suspect.

“We’re going to be out of our comfort zone. We’re going into warm zones that we have not entered before and it’s under the cover of the police department that we’re doing this training that will help us identify how our policies and procedures need to be updated and what the expectations with the fire service is in the future,” Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Costa said.

“The simple reality is this. We’re operating in asymmetrical environments, irregular situations that require irregular tactics and irregular response. The better that we can perform those, the better those that we can practice, the closer we will be to in fact a successful rescue assuming one of these incidents occur in Pasadena,” Sanchez said.

Superintendent Jon Gundry encouraged parents to be vigilant in knowing who their teenagers are with and where they go.

“These kinds of situations in real life tend to be kids who have been disenfranchised and don’t have good social connections whose parents don’t often know what their kids are up to. For parents, pay close attention to what your children are doing especially when they don’t want you to,” Gundry said.

This was the first training program of this caliber to train for active shooters in schools. It sprung from an idea by two officers.

“I really have high praise for the officers who put it together. It was Corporeal Jase Ward and Corporal Glen Thompson. They really gave it a lot of thought. They presented the idea a couple of months ago and now its come to fruition,” Sanchez said.

Everyone plays a role in hometown safety. If you See Something, Say Something. Report non-emergency information to the Pasadena Police Department at (626) 744-4241, or you may report information anonymously through Crime Sto ppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477) or (insert key word Pasadena).