by: PHOTO COURTESY OF PF&R - Shooting victims stagger out to be treated by medical personnel, in this Inner Southeast fire and police drill.Just after the start of the school day in the Portland Public Schools system, on Thursday, May 23, members of Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) rushed to Kellogg Middle School, at 3330 S.E. 69th Avenue, just off Powell Boulevard.

These emergency first responders were answering an “unthinkable” call they hoped they’d never hear: “Active shooter!”

It was a drill, we hasten to add, and the news media were informed ahead of time. But it was made as real as possible for the emergency responders, in order to hone their skills in the event of an actual incident. And, when police, fire, and medical crews arrived, they were told that someone had opened fire in the building, resulting in numerous gunshot victims.

As we said, there was actually no shooter in this long-shuttered school building, and the fifty or so “victims” were people made up with moulage, simulating various injuries.

“This training was designed to give first responders a ‘real life’ experience, as they navigated the difficulties of trying to control a threatening shooter, and, at the same time, to get medical care to victims inside the school,” explained PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Tyler.

“Since the incident at Clackamas Town Center, we haven’t trained with our partners for an event of this magnitude – a combination of large spaces and many potential casualties,” Tyler explained. “This kind of event requires that all emergency responders work together, simultaneously.”

After the three-hour drill, PPB Public Information Office Sgt. Pete Simpson said, “It is vitally important that we continue to train jointly, in a variety of scenarios.

“We each have well-defined roles in emerging crisis situations. The Bureau appreciates the ongoing opportunity to train with PF&R.”

While it may take some time for the full results of this emergency drill to be evaluated, Tyler said that one result will be to create new guidelines for emergency responders to work together, during this kind of an incident. And just how “unthinkable” was this scenario…? Just one day after this drill, authorities arrested a “model” high school student in the mid Willamette Valley for building large bombs which allegedly he planned to detonate at his school. Sadly, not so unthinkable after all.

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