HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - The deadly shooting in El Paso Saturday is highlighting a growing need for communities to be prepared in these kinds of situations.
That’s why Henrico Police conducted an ‘Emergency Active Shooter’ drill at the county court complex to better prepare first responders for the worst case scenario.
Around 10 a.m. until noon Saturday, a SWAT team could be seen spilling out of a tactical armored vehicle in the parking lot of the County Courthouse to rescue county employees acting as hostages from an armed gunman.
Henrico Emergency Coordinator Emily Ashley says scenarios like this have to seem as real as possible.
“The more realistic we can make it the more prepared we are in the event of a real emergency,” said Ashley.
Theactive shooter drill carries more importance in light of the latest target of a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, which left several people dead.
Back in Henrico, the objective of Saturday’s drill was to stop an active shooter who is holding dozens of people hostage inside the Courthouse building.
Ashley said some of the county employees were instructed to act in specific ways to make the drill seem more authentic.
“Some people immediately run when police entered the building. Ee had some people that hid under the desk. Ee had other people who played as if they were injured and we also played for a mass casualty incident to test those plans as well,” said Ashley.
Approximately 300 people were needed to conduct the drill. Hundreds of personnel with Henrico Police, Fire and EMS and County were purposely made unaware of the type of drill it would be in order to authentically test their communication and response.
“You never know what the scenario is and one active shooter can do damage to many people so there is never really an over-response anytime you have a situation that warrants them,” said Ashley.
Ashley said drills as large and coordinated as this one are becoming necessary protocols as active shooter situations become more commonplace.
“The scenario of an active shooter is just a sign of our times so we see that happening with schools and our governments facilities and our communities. We see more of those exercises happening,” said Ashley.
Henrico officials tell me the drills can range from man-made to hazard scenarios to natural hazard scenarios.
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