WarrenAugust 16, 2013
First-responders tested on Warren college campus
By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer
WARREN — SWAT teams, firefighters, paramedics and other first-responders descended upon Davenport University’s Warren campus Aug. 13 for a full-scale “active shooter” simulation designed to test the coordinated emergency response of various area agencies.
“It was a full-scale exercise. We’re required to do one each year,” Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said. “Davenport University graciously allowed us to use two of their buildings.”
The exercise involved six simulated terrorists spread throughout two buildings on the Davenport campus, on Dequindre north of 11 Mile Road. Police special response teams from Warren, Center Line, Sterling Heights, St. Clair Shores, Roseville, Clinton Township and Eastpointe responded to neutralize the mock shooters, while Davenport staff and a group of the university’s nursing students worked with emergency crews from the Warren Fire Department, local hospitals and private EMS transport agencies to triage and transport volunteer casualties.
“Obviously, we try to make it as realistic as possible,” Green said. “We try to get a realistic stress on all the different components that are involved in an emergency situation. We’ll go in and debrief, and take a look at how everyone responded. We’ll analyze what we did right and what we did wrong.”
Warren Police Sgt. Brendan Brosnan, team leader for the Warren Police Department’s Special Response Team, said about 80 SWAT officers from the participating communities took part in the exercise. Brosnan said each team functions with autonomy within its own jurisdiction, but trains to respond cooperatively as Metro Macomb SWAT in the event of a large-scale incident.
He said the exercise on the Davenport campus involved about 400 total participants, including police, firefighters and paramedics, members of Community Emergency Response Teams from across the state, and more than 30 of the university’s nursing students.
“They (the university) got to test their operating procedures, their emergency-action guidelines, and further, they gave their students an opportunity to do real stuff instead of sitting in a classroom and talking about it,” Brosnan said. “As a planner and as being a part of this, everything went better than planned.”
He said success in such training exercises is measured by finding mistakes, and by correcting them.
“We’re not looking to see how good we do something; we’re looking to identify weak spots, gaps that we may have, and to put together a forward plan to make these things better,” Brosnan said.
The mock casualties were made to reflect a variety of injuries realistically, with the help of volunteers from the film industry. Pretend victims left bloodied by “arterial sprays” and other fake injuries were transported to two local hospitals — including the St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren — where one of the transported mock victims actually turned out to be a seventh mock terrorist.
Brosnan said the Troy Police Department’s SWAT team dealt with the simulated threat at the hospital.
“That’s actually one of the rare exceptions that this exercise provided. Most experiences fall short of actually transporting the victims,” Brosnan said. “That never happens. They went from scene triage, to transport, to triage and treatment in the hospital, which was really good for the hospitals, as well.”
Mike Miller, executive director of Risk Management at Davenport University, said planning the exercise took about nine months.
“My main goals for the project were I wanted to give a good opportunity for the municipal services — the police, fire and EMS — to get some training in the most life-like circumstances we could create without an actual incident,” Miller said. “I really wanted to provide some unique learning opportunities for our nursing students.
“When you start adding more realistic things, like theater makeup and an actual response from police, it kind of kicks it up a notch and it helps people understand what to do in actual circumstances. It puts it in a different perspective. It was great to work with all the different folks. It was very easy to plan when you work with professionals,” Miller said.
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