Shooting simulated in scenario

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A training exercise for emergency responders Tuesday saw adisgruntled employee enter the Delphi-Packard Electric Systemsplant “open fire,” wound several people and barricade himselfinside an office for a confrontation with police.

The drill was for local emergency responders and an incidentdrill for employees at the plant. The exercise was used to evaluatethe effectiveness of the county’s incident command center and eachagency’s response individually.

“I think it went real well,” said Assistant Police Chief NolanJones. “We had a few little changes we probably still need to workon.

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“But considering the timeframe we had it was a good exercise,”he continued. “There was good coordination between allinvolved.”

Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galeyagreed. He said it was the first time the county actually employedthe incident command center in a realistic setting.

“We were really able to coordinate the way we are supposed to,”Galey said. “The incident commander, Nolan, was able to pass downhis needs to the other supervisors, like the ambulance service, andthey had the authority to tell their people what was needed. Itworked really well.”

The exercise started at 1 p.m. with the evacuation alarmsounding at the plant and a 911 call to the police. The respondingofficer was briefed on the situation, called for backup and sealedthe parking lot to the plant.

Jones and the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team arrivedmoments later and established a command center and perimeter. SWATthen prepared to enter the building.

The assault team’s first priority was to clear the entrance andestablish a forward triage where emergency medical technicians withKing’s Daughters Medical Center could tend to the “wounded”employees.

The assault team began locating wounded in the next room andbegan escorting the victims to the triage while continuing theassault. Once they located the shooter, barricaded inside theoffice, they assaulted his position and the shooter was killed.However, the exercise plan also stated two officers were wounded inthe assault.

It was not a textbook exercise for the SWAT team, said CommanderChris Case. The team was given a timeframe to complete the exerciseto allow Delphi employees to return to work and the missionparameters stated certain tactics and options normally used by theteam, such as negotiation, could not be used, he said.

“The tactics aren’t what we were here for today. It waslogistics. And I think that worked perfectly,” said John Douglas,SWAT training coordinator.

The SWAT exercise drew some statewide attention early Tuesdayafternoon when reports of a possible shooting at the plant began toappear in television and radio news reports. The DAILY LEADER alsoreceived several calls from people inquiring about what washappening at the plant.

The reports were generated by cellular phone users speculatingabout what was happening at the plant, which was evacuated withoutprior warning as a part of the drill.

“Y’all nearly gave me a heart attack. I’ve been at the doctor inJackson, and I’ve been calling for an hour and getting no answer.Then I heard that on the radio ….,” one worker said whilereturning to the plant during the drill.

Galey said the county periodically holds drills like Tuesday’sto test and evaluate the response of local agencies. Each drillposes a different scenario to challenge emergency responders. Thedrills have become more frequent and comprehensive since Sept. 11,2001, and the threat of terrorism on American shores.