Active shooter drill to take place Saturday

University police, county emergency teams and medical helicopters will converge upon the campus of Pittsburg State University Saturday morning as part of a drill designed to help ensure Crawford County is ready for the unexpected.

Crawford County emergency responders will take part in an active shooter drill at McPherson Hall at 9 a.m. Saturday that will involve nearly every emergency medical agency in the county.

“We’re doing this to test the medical surge effectiveness of our hospitals,” said Crawford County Emergency Management Director, Jason VanBecelaere. “An active shooter situation with mass casualties is one of the most stressful events our first responders and hospital staff will experience. These types of drills help us learn what we’re doing right and where can improve.”

The drill, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., will start with university police responding to the active shooter call. Although this will be a drill, Pittsburg State theatre students through their training will provide first responders with a greater level of realism than would normally be displayed.

“Dr. (Cynthia) Allan (Chair of Pitt State’s Communication Department) has graciously allowed us to use several of her students to help with this exercise,” said VanBecelaere. “My understanding is they are going to display very authentic wounds which will help first responders and hospital professionals as they triage patients.”

While the drill will begin on Pittsburg State’s campus, the real test will take place at the emergency rooms of Via Christi Hospital and Girard Medical Center.

“As part of the drill, patients will be transported by ground and air to Via Christi’s and Girard Medical Center’s emergency departments,” said Jessica Cobb, nurse manager of Via Christi Hospital’s emergency department.

“We’ll triage the patients as they come in and activate our incident command system which involves our administrative team. We don’t wish a tragic event on any member of our community, but we want to be as prepared as possible to respond if and when one does occur.”

   Saturday’s drill will begin 9 a.m. on the campus of Pittsburg State University. Agencies taking part include Pittsburg State University, Crawford County EMS, Girard Medical Center, Via Christi Hospital, Midwest AeroCare, MedFlight, Crawford County Health Department, Crawford County Emergency Management and the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas.