This is only a test: large scale active shooter exercise held on campus

DSC_3505Simulated gunfire and explosions echoed across campus on Thursday, May 14, as Kamloops emergency services conducted a full-scale hos­tage situation drill.

The stated goal of the drill was to test TRU’s “emergency management plan, rigorously assess its effective­ness and then adjust the plan for readiness in the event of an actual emergency.”

Smoke bombs are set off as a member of the RCMP Emergency Response Team looks on. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Smoke bombs are set off as a member of the RCMP Emergency Response Team looks on. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

According to the RCMP, the ex­ercise would “involve approximately 400 participants including RCMP, TRU Emergency Operations Group, campus volunteers, Kamloops Fire and Rescue, City of Kamloops, Inte­rior Health, BC Ambulance Service, observers from Emergency Manage­ment BC, Government Office and other agencies.”

Large portions of the campus, including the Clock Tower and the culinary arts building were closed for the duration of the drill. Vehicle access from Summit and McGill was also restricted. The RCMP informed the public of the campus closures on May 5.

The drill began at around 10 a.m., with a suspicious vehicle call going out to the RCMP officers staged on campus. By the time the first officers arrived on the scene, the mock sus­pects inside the vehicle had entered the Clock Tower with long-guns drawn and most of the hostages had successfully been evacuated from the building.

Cpl. Cheryl Bush, Kamloops RCMP media relations officer, said that the police response that followed was typical of RCMP Immediate Action Rapid Deployment (IARD) tactics. Rather than waiting for more backup, the first four officers on scene entered the clock tower and neutral­ized one of the hostage takers. Ac­cording to Cpl. Bush, IARD became standard procedure for Kamloops RCMP following a hostage situation on McGill road in November 2008 turned into a protracted standoff. The Kamloops RCMP is one of only two detachments in the province that regularly train in IARD, but this was their first opportunity to practice it on such a large scale.

Cheryl Bush, RCMP media relations officer in Kamloops. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Cheryl Bush, RCMP media relations officer in Kamloops. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Other emergency services person­nel also participated in the drill. By 10:25 a.m., members of the ambu­lance and fire service had a triage sta­tion set up in parking lot L and had begun treating mock casualties that were evacuated from the building by police.

Later on in the morning, a simu­lated car bomb detonated, shrouding the south side of the Clock Tower in white smoke.

Eventually, the hostage takers brought their captives into the board­room on the third floor of the build­ing, resulting in a standoff, which continued until 7:30 p.m., when TRU president Alan Shaver was the last hostage released.

Christopher Seguin, TRU’s vice-president of advancement said that the initial debriefing of the drill reflected that, “Two years of training resulted in a quick and precise re­sponse,” but also that some new things were learned and that fine-tuning would be necessary. Seguin also said that another drill of this sort would be possible, but it would likely simu­late a different sort of emergency and be “on a much smaller scale.”