Law enforcement officials, emergency services, and educators from across the county gathered at Orange-Ulster BOCES on November 8 to participate in the Active Shooter Awareness Training, an exercise to prepare for shooting incidents and other school-related crises.
About 210 police and first responders participated in the demonstration, practicing several procedures for responding to an active shooter incident. These included emergency vehicles driving through BOCES’ parking lot, first responders rushing in and out of the building and paramedics loading “victims” into their ambulances. Educators and others that didn’t participate first-hand watched the demonstration, courtesy of the drones and cameras set up throughout the premises.
“This has been nine months of planning. For the last three months, it’s been weekly meetings. BOCES was very influential in the planning process here,” said Pete Cirigliano, captain of New York State Police Troop F. “I’m very proud to say that every district made it a responsibility to get here this morning...every district is represented today.”
“It’s really preparation for the day that you don’t want to come,” said William Hecht, COO of Orange-Ulster Boces. “It could be a medical emergency. It could be a disaster. It could be any event that comes along. Today certainly, it’s an active shooter.”
The key parties that organized the drill included the New York State Police, Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, Orange County Emergency Management and Sheriff’s Office, and Orange-Ulster BOCES Department of Health and Safety. Emergency service personnel came from Monroe, Warwick, Newburgh, and numerous other municipalities.
“This has been a great opportunity to allow all the disciplines in emergency services to work in school systems for a common goal: keeping our kids safe,” said Anthony Weed, Orange County Undersheriff.
“Getting us all together, leaning on each other’s expertise and practicing the command system was important, because that’s not always done well,” said Mount Hope Police Chief Paul Rickard, president of Orange County Police Chiefs Association. “We know how to neutralize an active shooter, but we learned to do it on a multi-agency level. And school administrators learned what to expect from law enforcement.”
And the drill is only the beginning, as these departments hope to provide active shooter programs to schools throughout Orange County. Additionally, videos summarizing this training were distributed to emergency personnel, school administrators and teachers, and students’ families.
Getting us all together, leaning on each other’s expertise and practicing the command system was important, because that’s not always done well. We know how to neutralize an active shooter, but we learned to do it on a multi-agency level. And school administrators learned what to expect from law enforcement. - Mount Hope Police Chief Paul Rickard, president of Orange County Police Chiefs Association.