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Don’t Panic: FPC Will Be the Scene of a Large-Scale “Active Assailant” Exercise Thursday

| June 11, 2015

active shooter exercise

Flagler Palm Coast High School will be the scene of an ‘active assailant’ training exercise Thursday morning. (© FlaglerLive)

As you drive down State Road 100 Thursday morning, you’ll think something terribly wrong has happened at Flagler Palm Coast High School. You’ll see teeming police and fire engines from all local agencies, you might pick out the presence of some state agencies, you might see flashing lights, and Bulldog Drive will be closed for two hours.

It’s all a drill.

Flagler County Emergency Management is coordinating a large-scale exercise with all relevant local agencies, with an “active assailant” as the trigger. Emergency management is not releasing more detailed information than that because the aim of the exercise is to simulate  a stressful emergency as close to the real thing as possible, and to put local emergency agencies to the test as much as possible. Those involved are not being told more than being said here, so that the element of surprise is part of the response, and their reaction will be analyzed accordingly.

Local media have been informed to the extent that you are reading here, and will cover the event both from a news perspective, and, in some cases, as reporters involved in covering an emergency–testing the response of officials just as they would in an actual emergency.

Kevin Guthrie, director of Flagler County’s emergency management, has been developing the exercise and preparing it with local officials for the past few months.

“We bill it as an active assailant” exercise, he said this morning. “This not just an exercise for the school although it’s being held in a school environment. These events can happen in a hospital, in an insurance office, in a department of motor vehicle office, it can happen in any place where a person has a problem with any type of service.”

At least four out-of-county agencies have confirmed that they’ll be part of the exercise. More may join, depending on their schedule: a Volusia County evacuation unit, for example, will participate only if it has a low level of calls for service in Volusia that morning. Officials from a New Jersey health care coalition are scheduled to observe the exercise, as are others from the private sector.

“As people go up and down 100 on Thursday they will see apparatus and law enforcement vehicles, potentially with their lights on,” Guthrie said, though it is unlikely the SWAT Team will be visible.

“It’s important for everyone to know this is just a training exercise, a large-scale training exercise,” Guthrie said. “We don’t want anyone to be alarmed when they see a large number of emergency vehicles and our FireFlight helicopter in one area.”

A county news release issued this morning notes that students will also be among the participants. (School let out last week.) All of the student volunteers were cleared by the school district in addition to parental consent. Parents were given a briefing about the exercise before permission slips were distributed. Businesses in the area will receive advance notice of the event. Variable message boards will be in the area and displaying exercise and route information the week of this event.

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4 Responses for “Don’t Panic: FPC Will Be the Scene of a Large-Scale “Active Assailant” Exercise Thursday”

  1. Gunther says:

    Will Bruce Willis be there ? Are they going to call this one ” Die Hard 13 : Fast Times at FPC ? Will there be those Big armor plated assault vehicles with 120mm cannons mounted on the top ?

  2. NortonSmitty says:

    Of course. Why worry. It’s just a drill.

  3. Gladfly says:

    The Flagler County Gestapo is gearing up to dole out more DUIs and arrest little old ladies. Know your constitutional rights,sheeple.

  4. Sally Gillies says:

    I know it’s easy to criticize something you know nothing about and then sit back and watch the fall out. You three are dead wrong in your conclusions. I’m a little old lady and I was a part of this exercise. It was designed and coordinated by Kevin Guthrie, Public Safety Emergency Manager.

    This drill involved hundreds of people who tried to simulate a REAL disaster: a shooting at a high school. We’ve seen those on television, remember? It’s total chaos and I often wondered how the first responders knew what to do. Now I know firsthand.

    This exercise showed many good things but it also showed that with so much going on and the stress level rising, things can get dicey. Guthrie recruited the principal and about 65 volunteer students and 14 teachers from Flagler Palm Coast High School. Each had a script and they were spread throughout the campus as if it was a normal school day.

    Then shooting erupted and the screaming and fear took hold. Volunteer students were “shot” then assessed by the EMTs for treatment of their realistic made up wounds. In the meantime police and sheriff deputies collaborated to stop the shooter, gather up the “wounded,” patrol the halls and lock down the school.

    Right after the initial call to 911, volunteers from Plantation Bay CERT and others from the Flagler Emergency Management Volunteers gathered in the Emergency Operations Center and made scripted phone calls to simulate anxious adults overloading the 911 system. It didn’t take long for the phones to be redirected to the Sheriff’s department.

    Volunteers acting as concerned parents mobbed the school where they were collected into a group so no one else got hurt. Soon ambulances and squads began to arrive to transition everyone to Flagler Hospital. Once again volunteers turned the waiting area into a noisy and highly stressful area.

    In an emergency situation where everything is so fluid and chaotic, training is necessary so precious minutes are not lost trying to decide who is in charge and what to do next. Plantation Bay CERT members have received extensive training, many are CPR qualified, some are nurses, all are trained so we know what to do and have the biggest impact on getting things right. I applaud EOC Director Guthrie for his desire to train all emergency responders and volunteers to the highest level of expertise. Flagler County residents are safer for his commitment.

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