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University of Washington Police Department officers take part in an active shooter training exercise in the now-empty McCarty Hall
UWEM partners w/ UWPD for active shooter training

For emergency personnel, being prepared for the worst is a part of the job. So when an opportunity came up to use an empty residence hall for a unique training scenario, emergency planners and police lieutenants jumped at the chance.

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Emergency Management’s Scott Preston stands with volunteers and UWPD personnel after one training session in McCarty Hall.

Emergency Management’s Scott Preston stands with volunteers and UWPD personnel after one training session in McCarty Hall.

On Wednesday, January 6 and Wednesday, January 13, volunteers made up as injured victims and clad in protective gear met up with UW Emergency Management and officers from the University of Washington Police Department to train for an active shooter scenario in McCarty Hall, an empty residence hall slated for demolition in late-winter 2016.

“Training scenarios like these allow us to prepare our officers for the worst,” said Lieutenant Chris Jaross. “It’s a unique opportunity to stage situations and learn from the experience.”

Officers practiced formations, providing dispatch with timely updates, and accessing trapped volunteers. The sessions were thorough, using training weapons, fake blood and wailing volunteers.

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UWPD officers and volunteers debrief after an active shooter training exercise in the empty McCarty Hall.

UWPD officers and volunteers debrief after an active shooter training exercise in the empty McCarty Hall.

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Shell casing on carpet

The training scenario included use of training guns, shells of which littered the empty hallways of McCarty Hall.

“We can plan and plan for events like these, events that we hope will never happen, but simulated experiences like these can provide another level of preparedness. With training guns and volunteers in costume and makeup, the adrenaline and split-second decisions are still very real,” said Emergency Management’s Business Continuity Manager Scott Preston.

During this type of training, UW Emergency Management, a Facilities Services department, assists UWPD by recruiting volunteers, coordinating moulage (disaster make-up), providing training props and extra protective equipment, and on-site first-aid for any minor injuries. They also provide an extra set of eyes and ears for the police force, with observations, suggestions and feedback for the officers. In return, UWEM has a better understanding of the type of incidents, and is better able to plan and prepare for worst-case scenarios.

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Scott Preston shows the X marking search-and-rescue teams used in training sessions in McCarty Hall.

Scott Preston shows the X marking search-and-rescue teams used in training sessions in McCarty Hall.

Dozens of volunteers showed up to help train emergency responders, some even using vacation time from their regular jobs for a chance to help prepare the University’s police department for the worst.

UWPD and Emergency Management are not the first to use the empty building for training exercises; the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Washington State Patrol, Seattle Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have all used McCarty Hall for various training sessions for their staff.

For more photos from UWPD and EM’s training exercises in McCarty Hall, please visit our Flickr page. Warning, some photos may appear graphic; all blood and wounds are makeup worn by volunteers.