As emergency service personnel entered the Regal Cinemas on Century Boulevard in Germantown on Monday morning, they were met with a chaotic scene of violence and death. Numerous gunshot victims lay around the lobby of the movie theater, and an active shooter at large in the building and MCFRS personnel had to make split second decisions as to how to proceed — and that was exactly what 5th Battalion Chief Dave Pazos wanted.
The grim scene at the movie theater in the center of town, complete with 41 volunteers in grisly makeup, was all make believe. MCFRS conducted a Mass Casualty Incident Drill to better prepare first responders for the possibility that Germantown could be visited by same type the unthinkable violence which has played out in many other towns and cities throughout the nation.
According to Pazos, In order to ensure MCFRS personnel are ready for a variety of situations, the department routinely conducts training exercises so that firefighters can practice a variety of skills under simulated scenarios. Of course, the drill was held with the cooperation of the theater manager.
A total of 45 volunteers and a number of mannequins helped to act out the scenario, complete with fake blood, fake broken bones, fake gunshot wounds, and an MCPD officer acting as the fake shooter.
“While first the responding crews knew that they were not responding to an actual emergency, they did not know the specifics of the “call” to which they’d been assigned or what to expect once they arrived on the scene,” according to Pazos.
The crews, which included units from all four Germantown/Clarksburg are fire stations, as well as crews from Rockville, along with members of the Montgomery County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) team and Montgomery County Police, were to treat the situation as if it were a real active shooter response. EMS officers had to make decisions based on the safety of their crews while taking into the account the desire to prevent loss of life among the victims.
“Our crews had to determine whether to proceed into the lobby and assist the victims or to retreat, regroup and call for backup, all while doing triage of victims,” said Pazos. The conditions of the “victims” ranged from Priority 1, which means critical life threatening injuries to Priority 4 which is a victim who is dead on arrival of emergency service personnel.
Our personnel acted exceptionally. Our crews did better than we expected,” said Pazos.
Top: MCFRS personnel aiding a “victim” during Monday’s Mass Casualty Incident Drill at the Regal Cinemas in Germantown.
Next: A lobby filled with fake chaos and blood awaited first responders to the Mass Casualty Incident Drill on Monday in Germantown.
Photos courtesy MCFRS.