Preparing for the Worst

Local and on-campus first responders held an Active Shooter/Mass Casualty Drill last Tuesday.

Preparing for the Worst

Todd Johnson

First responders tend to a mock victim with simulated gunshot wounds during a multi-agency “Active Shooter/Mass Casualty” response exercise Tuesday morning.

Cries for help rang throughout upper campus during a multi-agency response exercise last Tuesday as first responders in full tactical gear swept through the quad among mock victims bearing simulated gunshot wounds and fake blood.

The “Active Shooter/Mass Casualty Drill” aimed to test communication between the campus and emergency officials, as well as the Student Health Center’s ability to perform triage in the field, according to a Cal State Long Beach press release.

Only hours after the drill, though, CSULB University Police received a call about a possible armed subject on campus — that wasn’t part of the drill.

Police issued a CSULB BeachALERT! about an armed subject at 3:30 p.m., ordering faculty and students to evacuate campus or find shelter. The alert also recommended locking and blockading doors, closing blinds and silencing cell phones, if necessary.

The alert was lifted a half hour later and the campus deemed safe, after University Police identified the subject in question as a contractor whose cell phone or equipment may have been mistaken for a gun, according to CSULB Spokesman Rick Gloady. Gloady said the alert was not part of the planned drill.

Rebecca Low, office administrator of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at CSULB, said she watched from the Human Services and Design building as police confronted the subject outside the Outpost Grill.

“Suddenly there were policemen in our little break area,” Low said. “We stood here behind our windows watching, and they had him down on the ground.”

Low said the incident prevented OLLI classes from taking place at their scheduled time, despite reports that no classes were disturbed by the alert.

“[Fifty] members of the class were stopped at [Parking] Lot 11 and Lot 9 and prevented from attending,” she said via email.

Emergency Management and Preparedness Coordinator Jonathan Rosene, who organized the drill, said the university responded to the alert more efficiently thanks to the morning exercise.

“We were a lot better prepared for it,” Rosene said. “It was very interesting to see that unfold afterwards, but I think we responded better because of the drill that morning.”

Long Beach Police Department, Long Beach Fire Department, University Police, St. Mary Medical Center and more than 150 volunteers collaborated in the drill to test response readiness in the event of an active shooter incident at CSULB.

The drill also saw 25 to 30 mock victims, who wore fake blood and gunshot wounds as first responders treated them. Some were even placed in ambulances to be transported.

Rosene said the university decided to test its responsiveness because of recent shooting incidents on other campuses.

“In the wake of everything going on, especially with what happened at Santa Monica College and Sandy Hook [Elementary School], it was important that our university know how to respond to an active shooter but to also handle the aftermath,” he said.

Terri Carbaugh, CSULB associate vice president of legislative and external relations, said the drill was a culmination of six months of training and a test of the effectiveness of the campus’ notification systems.

Carbaugh encourages all students to opt-in for the campus-wide emergency notification system, which can be found on my.csulb.edu.