On Sunday, an active shooter drill took place at the Westfield mall in Palm Desert.
Emergency responders were put to the test as they practiced as if it were a real life situation. News Channel 3’s Caitlin Thropay was there to catch the action.
The Major Hostile MCI drill brought together crew members from CAL Fire, Riverside County Fire Department, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and other local agencies.
“This is the first active shooter drill this large of a scale that we’ve done in the desert communities,” Ty Davis, Division Fire Chief told News Channel 3.
All agencies worked together in a drill simulating an active shooter- mass casualty event.
“We’ve had three potential active shooter incidents happen here within Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and Indian Wells alone,” Davis said.
As events like this become more common, the need for first responders to be well-prepared becomes even more important.
“It’s very unfortunate that it’s now becoming our reality to not only have our first responders be trained and alert and be fully prepared and have all the resources they need but also how can civilians understand they need to do in a case like this,” Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz said.
“If you look throughout the state and throughout the county more and more and more we’re starting to see active shooter incidents that are arising so it’s very important to get our public safety teams the training, so they are diligent, they are fast-paced, but they are treating appropriately, and they are mitigating the incident and subduing the subject like they should be,” Davis added.
Volunteers acted out different roles in the fake scenario, playing victims and bystanders.
“We’re thankful to the volunteers that came out,” Deputy Mike Vasquez, Public Information Officer with Riverside County Sheriff Department said. “Several hundred volunteers and so many people behind the scenes made these things possible today,” Vasquez added.
We spoke with one volunteer from Desert Hot Springs High School’s Public Safety Academy, who shared her experience.
“I think it was really interesting seeing everyone how they do their job,” Janessa Vaza said.
If you ever find yourself in a real life situation where there is an active shooter, Deputy Vasquez has three tips for you.
“If you’re ever put in a situation like this we’re asking you to three things: hide, run away if there is a viable exit to get out or fight if you’re placed in that situation.”