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UK Police Department holds 'full-scale active aggressor' drill on campus

EMS tactical medics practice removing actors portraying injured victims from the simulated scene.
Clay Wallace
EMS tactical medics practice removing actors portraying injured victims from the simulated scene.

Officers and first responders were presented with a simulated active shooter crisis.

The drill was coordinated by TEEX, the Texas A&M Engineering Service. Desiree Pliler, a TEEX facilitator, says elements of the exercise were pulled from a real-world scenario which occurred in Illinois.

"We set it up similar to that because - why would i make something up when it's happening everywhere?" explained Pliler. "I'm going to go with something that is real, that can be proven, and that you need to prepare for."

Facilitator Dianne Mathis says TEEX offers on-site classes and tabletop exercises as well, but drills provide emergency responders the chance to test their training and procedures in real time.

"A full-scale exercise really ramps up the emotions and intensity of the exercise," said Mathis, "which helps you understand how you would respond closer to a real-life situation."

The scenario began with calls to dispatch, both from 911 and the UK LiveSafe app. First responders cleared all three floors of the White Hall Classroom Building and practiced engaging with aggressors and hostages. Outside, EMS tactical medics practiced removing and transporting victims.

UK Police Department Chief Joe Monroe said the drill involved over 140 participants, including members of the Lexington Fire Department, the Lexington Police Department, Fayette County Public Schools, the ATF, the FBI, and civilians.

"We had 50 roleplayers - people that volunteered their time to come out here, put on the moulage to really simulate an injury, and I can't thank [them] enough," said Monroe, "Because those 50 individuals really helped us a lot to make this more realistic."

Monroe says the drill allowed emergency responders the chance to practice what they're doing right and figure out what they could be doing better.

"This actually puts the players in the response mode in the field," said Monroe. "You get to test everything - test your Wi-Fi, test your communications capability, test your equipment."

Following the drill, emergency responders gathered for an after-action debrief. Monroe says participants will review what they've learned, work on their response, and then look at doing a follow-up exercise.