Police, Fire, District Officials Conduct Disaster Drill

Fire and rescue personnel tend to "victims" during Monday's mock casualty drill at Shivela Middle School. Murrieta 24/7 pho...

Fire and rescue personnel tend to "victims" during Monday's mock casualty drill at Shivela Middle School.
Murrieta 24/7 photos: Kristen Spoon

Students caked with fake blood and crying for help and a "shooter" running loose on campus provided an exercise for police, fire and school district officials on Monday during a mock casualty drill at Shivela Middle School in Murrieta.

With public safety and school officials and media watching from a distance, school security officers and Murrieta police responded to the report of a shooter in campus. The man, who entered the office at 3 p.m. in a drill that took place after school, ran through the quad area, firing blanks at student and staff "victims". Before he could get across campus and into the library, he was taken down and handcuffed by police officers.

The next part of the training exercise was one of the first of its kind in the country, according to Karen Parris of the Murrieta Valley Unified School District. As they arrived on site within minutes, additional police officers in a triage unit began assessing the condition of victims and tagging them to indicate which were most severely injured. Moments later, a second triage police unit escorted fire and rescue personnel onto the campus to begin removing the victims to a safe place for treatment -- even while the handcuffed suspect was still on campus and buildings were being searched.

According to Matt Corelli of the Murrieta Fire Department, the practice of allowing fire and rescue personnel onto a shooting site that has not been cleared by police is a new tactic being used to save a maximum number of lives. Rescue personnel are under police guard as they enter and tend to the injured.

"This is a lesson we learned from Columbine," Corelli said in reference to the 1999 shooting at a Colorado high school in which 13 people were killed and 20 more wounded. "That showed us what we had to do differently. Folks were dying on the ground who didn't have to, because they were waiting for the area to be safe."

Another part of the drill involved school district officials. A call immediately went out to district personnel and counselors were alerted to arrive on site. Meanwhile, officers from five Murrieta Fire Department stations responded, as well as police and fire units from surrounding areas.

By 3:47 p.m., all but the "deceased" were cleared from the area.

Murrieta schools conduct emergency drills on a regular basis, but this was the first large-scale drill with such tactics involved.

One adult female role player in the drill suffered actual minor injuries and was quickly cared for by rescue officials.

Police escort uninjured or "victims" with minor injuries off the campus as part of the disaster drill.

A school nurse watches fire and rescue personnel care for student "victims."



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