Temple Police stormed Barton Hall on Wednesday morning during an emergency response exercise that was meant to simulate an active-shooter scenario.
The drill was meant to prepare the university in the event of an emergency, said Sarah Powell, Temple’s first director of emergency management.
“This is absolutely to streamline and enhance our procedures and policies,” Powell said. “We need to enhance our planning as a university.”
As observers and evaluators watched from Polett Walk, police rushed into the building in pursuit of the shooter. They carried victims, who were played by actors, out onto the grass behind Barton Hall on 13th Street. Student emergency management services workers separated the victims based on severity of injury – establishing a triage area.
Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said he was pleased with the results of the exercise.
“I think we are going to take back some good pieces to improve upon,” Leone said. “Overall, I think it went really well.”
Temple EMS Associate Director Sarah Paranich, who was the triage controller, said she was satisfied with her team’s performance.
“It went off without a hitch in my opinion,” Paranich, a fifth-year senior majoring in neuroscience, said.
Ten EMS responders were present, some of whom came from Drexel to participate in the exercise. The EMS student workers dealt with victims as they emerged from Barton Hall, and the victims were screaming and had signs of blood and gunshot wounds.
Exercises like this help to train officers to handle circumstances that they may encounter in a real active-shooter situations, Leone said.
“It’s dynamic. It really makes you think of real-life situations,” he said. “The actors here were phenomenal … It’s probably about as close to real as you’re going to get.”
Leone said that the officers and the shooter used cap guns and plastic bullets to create an even more authentic atmosphere. The bullets, which leave marks on their targets, are not completely harmless.
“I can guarantee you, and I’ve been hit with them, they hurt – they hurt a lot,” Leone said.
Paranich and Leone hope to never employ the strategies used in the exercise, but they said that Temple is prepared for an active-shooter situation.
“I do think our providers are well-trained and prepared for a scenario like this,” Paranich said. “I think we’d be in really good shape.”
“I think we are absolutely ready,” Leone said. “We’re one of the few departments that started the active-shooter training program before the Virginia Tech shooting.”
Leone added that Temple implemented a training program after the Columbine High School shooting..
Powell said that there were five parts to the exercise: Police response to an active shooter, Temple EMS response to a mass casualty event, a testing of the emergency notification system, a tabletop communications exercise and an exercise with Temple’s Office of Student Affairs.
In addition to the exercise, tables were set up outside the soon-to-be-demolished Barton Hall to distribute information regarding the training program, as well as advice for how students should act in an active-shooter scenario.
The handout urges students to run away if there is a safe exit path, hide if there is not, and fight as a last resort.
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @JackTomczuk.