Assailant Training: What would you do?

More than 30 ITD employees participated in the Active Shooter/Assailant training exercise July 18 at Borah High School in Boise. The event was meant to simulate a real-world scenario with a disgruntled assailant, and test the capabilities of law enforcement, emergency services, and others who would be involved in a typical response.

These employees, some of whom were observers and some actual participants, shared a few reflections with us in the days immediately following the event:

Jack Stom: I was one of 10 casualties who played the part through two separate scenarios. I was shot in the shoulder and forearm, but was able to walk. Some others at ITD were casualties that did not survive the shooting and had to lie in-place until the scenario played out. In the first scenario, the police found me in a room and once they determined that I was not a threat, had me make my way to the cafeteria to wait for further treatment and direction. However, two steps out the door, the officers found the shooter about 20 feet away from me. A barrage of gunfire took out the suspect and put a major spring in my step! Overall, I thought it was very good information and very thought-provoking—what would I have done if this were real?!

Cathy Spencer
I participated in each exercise as a casualty.  I incurred a gun shot wound to the head, resulting in a considerable amount of brain matter being noted (although I was dead…my performance was an Emmy winner for sure).  From my vantage point, I could see and hear the goings on of all who had a part from the initial shots of the active shooter to the shootout between police and the perpetrator. The activity was invaluable, as I was able to hear the communication of each responder (Police, EMT, Fire, EMS, Dispatch, etc.) via the radio and players that came into my area. The realization of how vulnerable we are here at ITD and the training that needs to commence in order to have our safety heightened is almost overwhelming.  In my opinion, ITD needs to have training for every employee, which includes every building to make us aware of how to assist each other and ourselves in keeping ITD staff safe. Improvements can be made everywhere and it starts with our education. Make the plan…work the plan.

Max Thieme: I was a role player. My experience was pretty straightforward. I was in a classroom, shooter comes by and pops a few shots, and moves on. Me and the others in the classroom sheltered in place. When you look around a classroom (I’m a veteran, so line of thinking is a little different) and think to yourself, “What here will stop a bullet, and what here only offers concealment?” it kind of makes the situation a little more real. When I got back into the office today, I looked around my office space to assess the availability of cover vs. concealment. I did that when I first took my job, but this training refreshed that situational awareness that becomes muted with complacency.

Ray Roman
I was there as a participant.  I really enjoyed the FBI briefing on active shooter incidents; briefing was an hour but it sure didn’t feel like it (great information).  Also, I appreciated the way so many different agencies worked together to achieve one common goal — save lives!  ITD should perform our own exercise.

Christine Lambing: I heard the gunshot, and my heart began to race. I was on my feet, chair overturned, and even though they said not to run, I found that I was. It was my first instinct, to get as far from the bullets as I could. I needed to find a safe place to hide or an area I could defend. I forgot an important lesson my father taught me…"Never run in a straight line."

I was casualty #4. I was fatally wounded, having received multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen, evidenced by lack of vital signs and a large pool of blood. I expired in the furthest corner from the entrances used by the active shooter.

It's amazing how even knowing it was a simulation, my fight-or-flight response kicked in, and that huge surge of adrenalin had me on my feet and moving before everything had a chance to register. I loved the experience. I wish I could have seen more of the response action in the hallways. I think ITD needs to have training exercises/drills, so there isn't any guesswork involved if an incident were to happen. It would be great if once we have everything fine tuned, we could include all ITD employees in the drills. Watching a video or reading a procedure manual just isn't enough. If I had to choose that one thing that impacted me the most, it would be to not leave any corner unchecked if at all humanly possible...and to remember to not run in a straight line.

Some of the ITD participants were from the districts, and we’ll hear their stories in coming issues.

Published 07-27-18