Multiple agencies throughout Deschutes County participated in an active-shooter training event on Saturday, May 19. Agencies including local law enforcement and fire departments participated in a joint effort at Sisters High School to prepare to work together in the event of a public emergency.
Among the participating agencies were the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, Black Butte Ranch Police Department, USFS Law Enforcement, Sisters School Resource Officer, Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Department, Black Butte Ranch Fire Department, and Cloverdale Fire Department.
The idea for an active-shooter drill began late in 2017. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and local fire departments made a joint effort to make the event happen after many agencies felt the need to better prepare for the kind of event that has become more commonplace in today's society.
William Bailey, public information officer for the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, was present for the event and gave The Nugget exclusive access during the training. Bailey explained that the main objective was to provide a scenario in which law enforcement and local fire and EMS can learn how to respond, stop the threat, and treat any injured. Being that fire and law enforcement are separate entities with different methods of response to emergencies, the scenario would provide an avenue of merging the two into an effective response force.
"No one agency can do it alone," Bailey said. "We all have to work together."
The scenario would also reveal any equipment that would be needed, effective ways to communicate, and the best response methods.
Saturday's event revealed a few issues that were addressed - such as lack of cell service in the building and poor radio signals. Part of the training is to identify and mitigate those issues ahead of time and learn how to deal with them prior to an actual emergency, Bailey explained.
The drill was run multiple times, as police and fire would execute the scenario then debrief, learn, and repeat with the intention of being more effective the next time around.
The scenario also included more than a dozen students portraying victims of a school shooting staged in the school's main entrance and the west wing of the building. Victims were dressed with moulage - a realistic make-up that simulates wounds to various parts of the body - and placed throughout the hallways and classrooms.
Real dispatchers were also on-scene to provide scripted real-time radio dispatches to police and EMS units.
The scene inside the school was realistic - students portrayed injured victims crying for help. Law enforcement officers were forced to find the threat and stop the shooter quickly and efficiently before treating the patients. Scenarios lasted for more than 30 minutes as security was established and patients were treated then removed to a triage zone outside the school.
"It takes a lot of people and coordination to put this type of event together," Bailey said. "But it's so important to not only the first responders, but just to reassure the community that we're prepared for this type of incident."