Full-Scale Training Tests Crisis Preparation

OGDEN, Utah – A multi-agency training with Weber State University, Ogden police, fire and SWAT teams as well as local hospitals will test the emergency readiness of the campus in a daylong exercise on Aug. 15 beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until early afternoon.

The WSU Office of Emergency Management and Planning conducts regular training exercises, and once a year plans a full-scale event. This year’s scenario includes gunmen who have a vendetta and are familiar with campus. In the drill, the shooters traverse several buildings firing weapons, taking hostages and igniting explosives.

To test and train emergency personnel, the exercise will be as realistic as possible. Volunteers, including theater students, made up as victims will be treated at the scene as well as transported to McKay-Dee and Ogden Regional hospitals. SWAT teams will engage with the shooters, and controlled explosions will simulate bombs. The training will be conducted during the break between semesters to minimize disturbance for students and the campus community.

The daylong simulation requires cooperation between multiple organizations both on and off campus. Creating those connections during training facilitates coordination in the event of an actual emergency.

“Coordinated communication means that we will be able to respond effectively and efficiently in an emergency,” said Dane LeBlanc WSU police chief. “We will have the groundwork laid to be able to deploy our resources quickly in any situation.”

The WSU Emergency Planning Committee develops a different scenario for each training exercise to test various components of the university’s crisis communications plan. In addition to providing training for police, fire and SWAT teams, this event will challenge WSU’s Information Technology infrastructure, the volunteer phone bank in the emergency call center as well as social media communication.         .

LeBlanc said communication channels are tested severely during emergencies. In response to past trainings, WSU has greatly enhanced its communication ability with the implementation of Code Purple. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to enroll in the system that delivers emergency notification by phone, text and email. The university has employed Code Purple several times to contact the campus during severe weather storms.

“We’ve tested, exercised and used our emergency notification system effectively several times,” LeBlanc said. “We have found the alerts are welcome, helpful and reassuring to our campus community.”

The Aug. 15 training will simulate the gunmen moving through the Hurst Center, the Shepherd Union and Miller Administration buildings, but actual training will take place in the Hurst Center, Building 3 in University Village and Annex 8.

The entire exercise is a drill for a potential crisis that university officials hope will never occur.

In an effort to minimize undue worry about first-responder vehicles on campus, the university will publicize the drill through voice and email messages, media and the web.

Following the exercise, the agencies will debrief to evaluate how they handled the various scenarios.

“This is a chance for us to exercise our plan, assess our performance and identify areas for improvement,” LeBlanc said. “It’s an excellent learning opportunity.”

Schedule for the Media

9 a.m.   Training begins, and emergency personnel arrive.                 Hurst Center

10 a.m. Officers engage first shooter.                         Building 3 in University Village

11 a.m.     Explosives detonate, SWAT engages second shooter.          Annex 8

Reporters and photographers will have limited access inside buildings to record training. Advanced notification of attendance will allow for increased accommodation. To learn more about Code Purple, visit weber.edu/codepurple. Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.
Contact:
Dane LeBlanc, WSU police chief
801-626-8003 • dleblanc@weber.edu
 
Mike Davies, WSU emergency planner
801-626-7729 • mdavies1@weber.edu
Author:
Allison Barlow Hess, director of Public Relations
801-626-7948 • ahess@weber.edu