Preparing for the worst: Emergency responders conduct active shooter drill

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. (NEWS10) – Nearly 100 people from 15 different agencies took part in an active shooter drill at the Sullivan Elementary School in North Adams on Friday.  The school is no longer in use, so it was a convenient location to stage this type of drill.

From Sandy Hook four years ago, to a deadly incident in South Carolina just last month, shootings seem all too common.

That’s why more and more police agencies are now taking an active role in making sure schools have a plan, and are prepared for the worst.

Amalio Jusino, owner of Emergency Response Consulting led Friday’s active shooting drill in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Jusino says active shooters are a threat not to be taken lightly, and one they want to be prepared for at a moment’s notice.

“We’ve seen a substantial increase in active shootings incidents not only in schools, but also in the workplace, which is the highest percentage of actor shooter incidents,” said Jusino. “As a result of that we need to prepare for it.”

Drills like the one held on Friday continue to evolve as law enforcement agencies learn and share what did and did not work in real-life incidents.

Those studies have revealed the need for fire and EMS to play a more proactive role in saving lives.

New research shows many shooting-related deaths result from severe blood loss, which is why it’s so important for EMS to get inside to triage and tourniquet as quickly as possible.

Adam O’Neil, a North Adams paramedic says new strategies for dealing with active-shooter incidents are very different from what has been done in the past.

“We are going to be entering the building with the potential of an active shooter in the building, which is very dangerous and not something EMS is used to doing,” said O’Neil.

First arriving officers are tasked with immediately entering the building, seeking out the gunman and eliminating the threat.

The drill on Friday took that response one step further. As soon as paramedics arrive on scene, they are armed with ballistic helmets and vests and escorted inside the building.

“People have died laying in the classroom or in the hallway because they’re bleeding to death,” said North Adams Chief of Police Michael Cozzaglio. “Police train to go get the bad guy, but the other piece of it is to bring in the EMS personnel to treat our victims as quickly as possible and as safely as possible.”

NEWS10 ABC cameras were not allowed inside the building during the actual drill. Officials say this was to protect the integrity of the tactical strategies used by law enforcement to take down the gunman.

School administration also attended the exercise allowing everything to get on the same page.

“We know that these are incidents that have occurred and that can occur,” said Dr. Barb Malkas, Superintendent of North Adams Schools. “So let’s be prepared to do our best to make sure our students know what to do, our faculty knows what to do, and that we can save more lives.”

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