LCCShots rang out and Lower Columbia College was awash with police and emergency vehicles Wednesday as part of an emergency drill for first responders.
The “active shooter” drill was planned to give police, fire and other emergency crews practice in case they ever have to respond to the real thing. It was as realistic as possible, including scanner traffic about the shooter and the search for victims. The SWAT truck deployed to campus, and police from several agencies responded.
“We need to practice these things so we’re able to identify where any deficiencies are, so if a real event happens we’re prepared,” said Longview Fire Chief Phil Jurmu. Each agency runs its own training, but it’s rare to practice with everyone who would respond to a real crisis situation, he said. This drill took six months of planning and scheduling and involved the Longview fire and police departments, Kelso police, Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue, AMR ambulance services, Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management and LCC campus security.
The drill started at 9:10 a.m., with reports of gunfire. Police neutralized the suspect, and “victims” were removed from the danger area, treated and then transported to St. John Medical Center. Then, around 9:45 a.m., another gunman took hostages in the college’s library. He “shot” a student, leading to a shootout with police, with the drill concluded by noon.
“We had to all work together to transition people from a hot zone to get them to care at the hospital,” Jurmu said.
The drill will be reviewed to identify any needed improvements, but Jurmu said the initial event “went fantastic.”
“We have strengthened relationships between law enforcement, fire and EMS,” he added.
Classes weren’t in session, but some parts of the LCC campus were open, Jurmu said.
Wednesday’s drill was not related to the real-life Navy Yard shooting earlier this week, according to the Cowlitz County DEM. Still, officials said that any mass shooting demonstrates the need for emergency crews to be prepared for a possibly deadly situation.