Police, Fire conduct ‘shooter’ drill at Berkeley school

Police and fire drill, April 2, 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
First responders from the Berkeley police and fire departments find a shooting “victim” outside the Berkeley Adult School on San Pablo Avenue during a training exercise. Photos: Emilie Raguso

Authorities converged on a North Berkeley school campus Tuesday morning to practice how to respond to a scenario involving injured and deceased victims, as well as a barricaded gunman.

Victims, played by volunteers, wore stage make-up to mimic injuries. Police and fire teams, who began responding to the “call” around 9 a.m., had to come up with a safe strategy to care for the injured, who were scattered throughout the school, and locate the hidden shooter. First responders included several police officers, who found an injured “victim” in the grass outside the school; as they communicated suspect information and other details from the victim back to dispatchers, more and more crews arrived.

The operation culminated around 11 a.m. when a police team found and “killed” a volunteer playing the role of the shooter. Photos from the drill, by Emilie Raguso, appear here.

A Berkeley police tactical team leader gives instructions to officers about the upcoming operation.
Berkeley Police Department tactical team members don equipment and move toward the school to make entry.
Berkeley firefighters discuss their response plan.
A Berkeley police officer takes cover behind a fire engine.
The Berkeley police officer takes his position on the ladder of a fire truck; a firefighter joins him.
Berkeley Fire crew members strategize on the ground as a police officer climbs the ladder.
University of California police officers check the perimeter, on Virginia Street, as they prepare to make entry into the Adult School.
A University of California Police team gets ready to enter the school to look for the “shooter” in Tuesday morning’s exercise.
Police officers from Berkeley and the University of California check classrooms to search for “victims” and the “shooter.”
Berkeley police officers escort Berkeley firefighters inside the school to care for shooting “victims.”
Berkeley police tactical teams search the building to find the “shooter.”
Police found the “shooter” in a classroom with hostages. He was “killed” during the incident. (Drill volunteers wore stage make-up to show injuries.)
A Berkeley police tactical team member discusses the operation with another officer.

The exercise, at the Berkeley Adult School at 1701 San Pablo Ave., was also a chance for the Berkeley Police and Fire departments to practice using a new radio system that allows them to communicate with each other and other agencies more efficiently. Officers from the University of California Police Department also participated.

Berkeley Interim Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said it was the first drill done on such a large scale between the agencies. Webb said goals included setting up a “unified command” structure, and deploying teams including both police officers and firefighters, to work on communication and best practices.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats agreed: “It gives us an opportunity to work together and figure out the best way to handle a scenario, and work out, for the future, what would be the best protocol.”

Exercises are planned to continue at the Adult School through Friday, April 5, at 9 p.m. Said police, “The neighborhoods surrounding the Berkeley Adult School can expect to see police and fire vehicles and associated crews in the area throughout the week. People should also expect to see members of our Barricaded Subject Hostage Negotiation Team, as well as role-players made up to look like causalities. Occasionally fake smoke may be visible as well as water from fire hoses.”

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Emilie Raguso is Berkeleyside’s senior editor of news. Email: emilie@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: emraguso. Phone: 510-459-8325.