DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — In the wake of the Isla Vista rampage and several other mass shootings across the country, Los Angeles police and firefighters staged a drill Thursday to sharpen their emergency-response skills.
The training exercises were designed by law enforcement and enacted at California Hospital Medical Center in Downtown L.A.
Officers and hospital staff took on the roles of gunman, hostages and victims.
“It’s still shocking when you hear the first blast from the blanks on the guns that they’re using,” said Tiffany Kirkham, manager of the hospital’s emergency department who played a hostage victim.
In one scenario, a disgruntled employee with a gun kills the Human Resources director and other employees at the hospital and takes others hostage.
“If you are able to fight back, it’s better to do something than to do nothing,” Kirkham said.
Law enforcement descends on the scene and performs a united response, brandishing inert rifles and pistols. In some cases, officers simulated a fatal shooting of the gunman.
Officials say the annual drill better prepares police, firefighters and hospital staff for a lone gunman hostage situation.
“The police are doing their best to get in as quick as they can to neutralize the threat. And at the same time, we’re trying to get in right behind them to treat victims before they have a chance to die,” LAFD Battalion Chief Gerry Malais said.
“We are working pretty much hand in glove; they used to be our cousins but I think actually they’re more like our brothers, the firefighters,” LAPD Cmdr. Richard Webb said. “We’re satisfied with what took place, but we never, ever rest on that, so we’re going to keep working on this.”
The training benefits everyone. All agree it was a realistic experience and could save lives should a real incident occur.