WENATCHEE – The campus of Wenatchee Valley College played host to a large-scale emergency response training on Friday morning.
The exercise involved scores of professionals from local law enforcement agencies like the Wenatchee Police Department (WPD), Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington State Patrol, as well as first responders and medical staff from organizations like Chelan County Fire District No. 1 and Confluence Health, along with various local ambulance companies.
“One of the biggest things for us is just communication between law enforcement, fire and EMS,” explained Chelan County Fire District No. 1 deputy chief Andy Davidson. “Typically when we look at these sorts of events that goes poorly, today it went really well and we able to practice scenarios that we hope never happen but need to be prepared for.”
Brian Chance, Captain of Operations for WPD said of the exercise, “It definitely gives us an opportunity to become more familiar with the protocols and the responses from somebody like Wenatchee Valley College or Confluence Health, but it also gives us the ability to work directly in unison with other emergency services.”
The training was based around the simulation of an active-shooter scenario at the college and included the assistance of over 30 volunteers, many of whom are also employees of either WVC or Confluence, that portrayed the drill’s civilian ranks who found themselves caught in the crossfire.
“Being an actor today provided me with the experience of what a student might go through in something like this,” detailed Brett Rily, Vice President of Administrative Services at WVC. “And from an administrative standpoint, every time you can exercise your emergency plan it’s a benefit to the college, so you can find out what’s working and what’s not working going forward.”
Confluence’s Chief Nursing Officer, Tracy Kasnic, also played a civilian victim in Friday’s active-shooter scenario. “It was a very unique perspective,” said Kasnic. “I got to watch people work. I got to see a lot of communication, both good and opportunities for improvement. I think the community will really benefit from this exercise overall.”
Shelley Story, who is an emergency nurse at Confluence, was afforded one of the day’s most unique opportunities by portraying a shooting victim in the drill.
“Normally, I’m on the other side of things,” explained Story. “Normally, I’m a nurse doing triage but today I was a victim. I had a gunshot wound to the chest and I was also pregnant. I was able to take a ride in a helicopter, theoretically to another hospital.”
“It was really neat to be able to overlap the two,” continued Story. “Going from my nursing to now looking back (at) how can we best support these people who are going through this crisis. And for me, it was just knowing that we have a really great community unified command here in Wenatchee that really works well together.”
Response exercises like the one held Friday at WVC have become a regular part of the training regiments for many law enforcement and emergency service outfits within the region, including an active-shooter simulation held by the Wenatchee Police Department at Wenatchee High School last month.