By Britlie Sharp
On Thursday, Castleview Hospital sponsored a mock school shooting at Carbon High School. The purpose of the event was to help prepare emergency responders if the unfortunate tragedy of a school shooting were ever to occur in this area. The main organizers of the event were Jeff Weddle, ICU Director at Castleview Hospital; Travis Engar, Emergency Room Doctor at Castleview Hospital; Justin Needles, Carbon County Emergency Services; and Robby Donaldson, Emergency Manager for the Southeast Utah Health Department.
“Students at Carbon High School were targets of an active shooter. This was a simulated event, however this headline creates sleepless nights for many people in our community,” Carbon County Emergency Management shared. “How do we combat this fear, reconcile this beast that we are forced to think about? The answer is, we become aware, we prepare and we practice.”
Organizers arranged for participants to come and be a part of the mock shooting. Individuals from the Carbon High cross country team as well as other members of the community were a part of the event. The participants were given fake injuries. Many had gunshot wounds, and a few faked death. They were placed in the school as if there were a real shooting.
When they first arrived, the emergency personnel immediately captured the mock shooters. Then, they attended to the injured participants. Those who were assessed to be badly injured were taken by ambulance to Castleview Hospital. Medical professionals at the hospital further practiced treating the participants as if it was a real situation. This was a good practice experience that allowed emergency personnel to prepare in case there were ever a real shooting.
The participants agreed that this was a good experience. It allowed them to understand what would happen if a real emergency occurred. Participants felt like the emergency personnel responded well to the fake shooting.
Dr. Travis Engar stated the purpose of the event was to have better preparedness if a school shooting were to ever happen and so that everyone is better prepared as a team. The local sheriff’s department, ambulance, SWAT teams, paramedics, fire departments and emergency medical services were all a part of the event.
“This field exercise provided participants working knowledge of a mass casualty triage system, hands on experience stabilizing victims, recognition of gaps in interoperable radio communications, the opportunity to form a unified command system and apply stress management skills in a disaster,” according to Carbon County Emergency Management.
The emergency personnel learned a lot from the experience and were able to get good practice. Dr. Engar said that some of the things that went well were the SWAT team clearing out the shooters, the transportation during the shooting, and the volunteers and participants who helped in the shooting. Some areas Dr. Engar thinks the emergency teams could improve in are communication and tracking patients. Overall, it was a very beneficial experience that helped get emergency teams prepared.
“We encourage the community to practice, to exercise, and have the tough conversations about what to do in an active shooter situation,” Carbon County Emergency Management shared. “If you encounter an active shooter situation try to remove yourself from the threat as quickly as possible, run in the opposite direction of the shots. If you are unable to run or the situation is to close that you would be in danger, hide. Hide in any spot that has little to no visibility, somewhere that makes you a difficult target. As a last resort if you cannot run or hide, then you must fight.”
For more information and to be prepared, watch “How To Survive and Active Shooter” tips from the Department of Homeland Security by clicking here.