Story and photos by Amanda Rodriguez/Viking/Photo editor/@arod_mandy

Over 200 college students and employees and the Long Beach Police and Fire departments arrived to participate and assist in a mass-casualty training exercise at the PCC on Thursday, April 6.

Two particular scenarios took place, an active shooter drill and a rescue task force drill, in which students and employees volunteered as victims in the life-like simulation.

Nursing major Courtney Skagges, 23, who participated as a pretend victim, said, “My knee was shot (as a part of the drill) and my shoulder as well, one of the girls in the room died, and then it’s just me and one other minor injury (person)”.

“We’re yelling and trying to get help. The police come in and makes sure the shooter isn’t there and then the firemen comes in and treats us.”

Long Beach Community Emergency Response Team employee Marie Sorensen applied moulage makeup to the pretend-victims to simulate gunshot wounds and other injuries on victims’ faces and bodies.

As a matter of keeping the simulation realistic, the press were told to stay in parking lot 2 near the Child Development Center to make sure they remained out of the way during the drill. The regional press at the event included Fox 11 news, Telemundo, ABC 7 and NBCUniversal.

With a tight lockdown on the perimeter around where the exercise was staged, the first team to go into the building was the police. Shortly after the police secured the premises, firefighters stormed into the William H. Dyer Hall with several students waiting to be rescued.

Students screamed as the rescue teams barged into the building. Proctors stood on the sideline of every scenario observing each team as they trained so they could debrief everyone afterward regarding areas where they can improve.

The first victim to be safely escorted out of the building, Enrollment Services representative Cathy Doles, said, “It’s very real. We really need to push safety, especially on campus.”

Sofia Bean, 19, a forensic anthropology major, was carried out by firefighters after one of the rescue task force scenarios played out in the FF Building: “It was really scary and amazing. It feels so real, I started hyperventilating at one point.”

It took some teams a little over 10 minutes to get in and out of the building. Their goal was to complete the scenario within 12 minutes to be efficient. The overall goal of the exercise was to realize the mission and then act accordingly.

The original mission on the active shooter is to make contact with the shooter and eliminate the threat, officials said. The second part is to form the rescue task forces and save lives, they said, adding, “The only way you save lives is to get to each person as quickly as possible. And provide life-saving interventions.

Fire Battalion Chief Matt Gruneisen said, “We frequently, as a department and as a region, do a lot of combined drills to help better prepare us. We’re working with our partners, the police, because in some incidences it is a coordinated attack. In effort to help as many people as we can at the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. There’s a big push in the region and in the nation for us to be better collaborators in these situations. We drill regularly once or twice a year collectively together.”
Gruneisen continued, “Our goal is to spend about one minute with each person and then move on to the next one. Work on them, satisfy their needs and then move on to the next person in need. There’s been an appreciation for the fact that our brothers and sisters on the other side show up to these drills and they take it super serious. We have to take this serious because if we’re not going to do it here, then we’re not going to do it in real life.”