Fire, Police Personnel Train for Mass Assault

MURRIETA – Murrieta police and firefighters this week will be simulating a mass casualty operation where rescuers work to stop a rampaging gunman while trying to save as many lives as possible.

”It’s really good that we’re practicing together,” said Murrieta Fire Department Capt. Matt Corelli. ”We want to make sure we’re all on the same page in this type of scenario.”

The ”Active Shooter” simulation is scheduled for Wednesday and Friday afternoons, behind fire department headquarters at 41825 Juniper St.

According to Corelli, one of the leading objectives is to iron out potential problems in how the two agencies communicate and approach an act of mass violence.

”Firefighters and police officers speak a different language. So that communication link is a big-time, important element of this,” he told City News Service. ”We already have a good working relationship. But we need to make some adjustments so there aren’t any issues in the future.”

He said the scenario will test how fire crews and police officers react to a crazed gunman or terrorist carrying out an assault at an elementary school, comparable to what transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012. Twenty children and six adults were killed.

”The officers will be going in to neutralize the shooter with AR-15 rifles. The firefighters will be equipped with ballistic protection, and we will go in and systematically triage and sort patients according to their injuries,” Corelli told CNS.

During a practice run today, police Explorers played the roles of victims.

”We want to do these live drills on a semiannual basis,” Corelli said. ”Since 2000, events like the one at Sandy Hook have become more common. We want to get everybody trained.”

About two dozen public safety personnel will be involved in the two-hour exercises on both Wednesday and Friday, according to Corelli.

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