Emergency responders practice active shooter drill

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - It's hard to imagine an active shooter situation happening where you live, but it's something all emergency responders have to be prepared for.

Multiple Hastings emergency agencies participated in a city-wide disaster drill Thursday at the Hastings Regional Center. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

Multiple Hastings emergency agencies participated in a city-wide disaster drill Thursday. The city does this kind of training every year, but this time, they practiced how to respond in the case of an active shooter.

The drill took place at the Hastings Regional Center. Around 20 to 30 actors played the "victims" of the active shooting. They were each assigned and made-up with various degrees of injuries, and told how to act when emergency responders approached them.

"It's easy to say, 'oh it's Hastings. We're rural America. We're Midwest. It'll never happen here,'" said Ron Pughes, Adams County emergency manager. "It can happen here just as easily as anywhere else, and being prepared ahead of time and kind of having those actions in place as to how we would handle an event like that is of utmost importance for all the agencies."

Hastings police, fire and EMS, as well as the Adams County Sheriff's Department and Mary Lanning Healthcare participated in the drill Thursday.

While police searched for the shooter, emergency responders had to figure out who to treat first, and who to get on the ambulances right away.

"It really taxes your resources as far as what you have, whether it be staffing, space, and also supplies and the care provided after ER," said Kevin Bredenkamp, director of emergency services at Mary Lanning Healthcare.

In a mass casualty situation, it's especially important for hospitals to know how to handle that many people coming in at once.

Mary Lanning wanted to practice an active shooter drill partly because of how much it's happening all across the country. Donna Munsell, emergency management coordinator at Mary Lanning, said they've been studying up on how to respond to active shooter scenarios for about two months.

"We have a lot of staff that they don't necessarily worry about it, but they do wonder what we would do in that situation there. So we just want to make sure people are prepared and educated and know what to do," Munsell said.

The goal of this drill was to make sure all emergency responders know how to respond both individually, and together in situations where there are mass casualties.

This was the first time some of the Hastings agencies participated in an active shooter drill on this large of a scale. Pughes said active shooter drills are at the top of training lists for emergency agencies, because of how frequent they've become.

Pughes also said they're looking to eventually have a family assistance training, to teach the public what to do in situations like this one where there are mass casualties.