It went smoothly, if preparing for destruction can be described as such.
DeSoto County, its schools, DeSoto Memorial Hospital and Arcadia ran a mock live-shooter drill last week at the Turner Center. The event corresponded with multiple killings in Virginia Beach, but that was coincidence, said DeSoto Fire-Rescue Chief Chad Jorgensen, a coordinator of the June 5 drill. The idea for running a live-shooter rehearsal is to limit serious injuries and death. Local planning took about a year, he said. Mock media also allowed county, hospital and city public information officers to answer in simulated interviews.
“The old way,” Jorgensen said of disaster training, “was to show up, stage, wait for law enforcement or SWAT. But the sad reality is that waiting will cause loss of life. This is a new way of doing business.”
This new way of limiting something like a Virginia Beach or a Marjory Stoneman Douglas, according to the fire chief, is to run teams into the shooter’s zone, one to eliminate the threat, another team of medics and armed escorts in cleared space to stabilize victims. And as quickly as possible, Jorgensen said. Many victims in such situations bleed to death, he said. Training at the Turner Center included victims in Halloween-like makeup, or moulage, others acting as if traumatized, yelling and in shock, for example. Volunteers with a South Florida State College nursing program, DeSoto Memorial staff and Turner Center workers role-played as the injured. Responders rushed the dark building, contained two shooters, then transported survivors to DeSoto Memorial, which rehearsed disaster coding drills. Victims were instructed to act as if injured or in shock with a rehearsed list of specific symptoms, which gave the doctors and nurses a more realistic drill, said Sarah Hipp, hospital spokeswoman.
State FBI agents monitored the morning drill, supplying tips, Jorgensen said. The DeSoto team received positive feedback.
A humorous glitch: Use paper flipcharts to track things. Whiteboards and erasable markers get blotted when someone mistakenly leans in and wipes the board clean. “You lose everything you have,” Jorgensen said.
Such drills in DeSoto County will be conducted regularly, considering the pace of society’s ills, the fire chief said.