LASD conducts "Active Shooter" Training at Pierce College

First Responders Coordinate Response and Rescue Efforts in

First Responders Coordinate Response and Rescue Efforts in
Active Shooter Exercise at Pierce College

Practice makes perfect. With this old adage in mind, and as part of a commitment to the safety and wellbeing of students and staff, first responding law enforcement and fire rescue agencies local to Los Angeles Pierce College trained with faculty and students to prepare a coordinated response in the event of an active shooter.

In the wake of such highly-publicized tragedies in some of our nation’s schools, it is imperative for law enforcement to partner with school administrators, to ensure the safety of campus communities. Training together and preparing for a day no one hopes to see is a must; it creates muscle memory for a smoother response to resolve a dynamic and chaotic scene, just in case that day comes.

To hone response efforts, approximately 150 participants from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Community College Bureau, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Fire Department, and Los Angeles Pierce College spent the morning of Thursday, August 23, 2018 on Los Angeles Pierce College grounds. The drill, which came at the beginning of the school year, was the largest multi-agency exercise conducted yet by the Community College Bureau.

Community College Bureau provides contract law enforcement services to nine community colleges on campuses across Los Angeles County. Because Los Angeles Pierce College is located within the city limits of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments are the closest agencies to respond to a request for assistance. Together, personnel from the three organizations addressed the possibility of an active shooter on campus, and collaborated with faculty and students to create realistic training if confronted with it.

The training exercise was overseen by instructors from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Tactics and Survival Training Unit. They designed the scenarios to develop skills and strategies in handling an active shooter incident at locations with multiple victims. They incorporated simulated gunfire with firearms and paint projectiles, smoke bombs and improvised explosive devices to create a real-life feel. Students and faculty acted as patients in the scenarios; law enforcement worked together to locate the agitators, secure the campus, locate victims, and assist those in need of medical assistance; and fire rescue personnel assisted in coordinating patient care.

Chief James Hellmold, who oversees the Community College Bureau, attended the training exercise. “The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department prioritizes the safety of students and staff at all Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) campuses,” he said. “Emergency preparedness and campus safety requires an ongoing commitment to stay at the ready to prevent campus incidents and respond to emergencies in an effective manner. This is accomplished through collaboration and training with local law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, LACCD administrators, and other key stakeholders to uphold the safety of our campuses.”

The day’s event was a meaningful, insightful and impactful training exercise for first responders, faculty and students, alike. One added benefit is the mental review and rehearsal of events by the students and faculty who, as civilians, would not normally receive this type of training. Their new understanding and preparedness will likely be shared with others, guide them in the event of an active shooter and help keep them calm. First responders from three different agencies learned to work together even more fluidly during a stressful situation to uphold the same priority: Keep everyone safe.