An active shooter exercise at Pratt Community College and Pratt Regional Medical Center tested protocols at both facilities.

By Gale Rose

The shots were loud and there were a lot of them. An active shooter exercise at Pratt Community College Jan. 5 included Pratt County Undersheriff Max Barrett firing blank rounds at the floor in the building to add to the realism as a student volunteer, sophomore A.J. Banks who took on the role as the "shooter," made his way around the Bensen Education Center threatening people.

Resident Halls resident assistants took on the part of the injured students that were spread around the building corridors.

The goal of the exercise was to test the protocols in place to find out what works and what needs improvement not only for the college but also for the first responders and Pratt Regional Medical Center that was part of the exercise, said Pratt County Emergency Manager Tim Branscom.

Taking part in the exercise was PCC, Pratt Regional Medical Center, Pratt County EMS, Pratt County Sheriff, Pratt Police Department, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Reno County Emergency Management, Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Regional Readiness Emergency Management Association.

The event began with Banks "confronting" Susan Mayberry, administrative assistant to Lisa Miller, vice president of student/enrollment management. After Mayberry went to her office to try to comply with demands, the "shooter" went around the building shooting a number of "victims" before he was "shot with an imaginary gun" by faculty member Greg Bacon.

City police officers searched the building room by room, gave locations of victims, then "arrested" the shooter. They rescued some staff that barricaded themselves in place during the exercise.

Pratt County EMS then entered the building, triaged the victims who were then taken to PRMC where the staff "treated" the various wounds.

The exercise lasted about two hours with representatives from various agencies following the action and evaluating all entities during the exercise. Participants took part in an extensive debriefing to evaluate how the event was handled, what were the strong points and what areas could use improvement.

"We brought in a lot of outside people to evaluate. If you evaluate your own exercise, you many not be as critical. They are not as biased," Branscom said.

Overall, the exercise went good. The system was tested and everyone did their job. There were a couple of glitches but that was expected with an exercise like this that helps the participants strong points and short falls.

Branscom said the exercise worked so well because law enforcement, EMS, and the hospital all know each other and worked together well. There was excellent cooperation among all the agencies. The exercise helped us recognize our strengths and our short falls.

Michael Calvert, PCC president, said it was good for the college to practice their plan because of the things that are happening in the world.

"We can't stick our head in the sand. We certainly learned a lot," Calvert said.

Susan Page, PRMC president and Chief Executive Officer, said overall, it went very well. There are opportunities for improvement and that's why these drills are done.

There were 10 staff at the incident command station at the hospital including several nurses and mid levels in the emergency department. The maintenance department secured all doors to the hospital as part of the exercise.

Victims arrived, one about every 10 minutes, with a card that described their injury. They were admitted to emergency with one or two scheduled for the operating room. A surgeon was on standby.

The hospital will benefit from the exercise.

"I can't tell you how invaluable it was. We all learned a lot," Page said. "Just going through the the drill enforced the need to do it more frequently than we have."

The hospital plans to do another exercise for a different situation in the next three to four months.