Active Shooter Drill Held at HCC
HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — At first glance, it looks like a worst-case scenario: Holyoke police tailing an armed gunman on the HCC campus.
Then you spot the water guns.
“This is not a tabletop drill. This is going to be a hands-on, active drill,” says Holyoke Fire Lt. Tom Paquin. “We have State Police, State Police K9 unit, Holyoke Police and Fire, AMR — numerous agencies are here today and we’re going to do an active shooter drill.”
The drill allows first-responders to test the newest tools in law enforcement, including high-tech respirators, eye glasses with built-in cameras and a GPS tracking system that helps officers follow the assailant through the building.
“By using all this new stuff, we know who to contact, how the agencies work interactively together,” says Paquin. “So this is basically the first trial of this magnitude in a collegiate setting.”
Organizers say they conduct large-scale drills at HCC throughout the year. This one has been in the works for several months, but the timing of it — after the tragedy in Newtown, the bombings in Boston, and even the security scare on their own campus back in February — wasn’t lost on anyone who attended today’s drill.
“We do training 3 to 4 times a year here at the college, we’ve had chemical spills and that kind of stuff,” says Paquin. “So this just happened to be an active shooter.”
Paquin adds, “It isn’t driven by any particular event, but it’s just a preparation drill — hopefully nothing ever happens but all these agencies want to be prepared just in case it does.”
“Oftentimes, it takes an incident for communities to come together and then come up with a plan so I think that it’s important as a community we’re proactive and prepared for anything that comes to the city,” says Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.
Students from Boston University played the part of shooting victims during today’s drill. They were even transported to Holyoke Medical Center so first responders could practice getting victims medical care as quickly as possible.