The calls of “shots fired” over radios Thursday night were just part of a drill, but the officers who heard them treated the exercise as a life-and-death matter.
Dozens of first responders from multiple agencies gathered at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office in downtown Las Vegas on Thursday evening to practice an active-shooter drill. Police, troopers, firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers practice the drill a few times a year, Nevada Highway Patrol spokesman Travis Smaka said.
The training scenario is hosted by the public safety department, which cleared its office Thursday so law enforcement officials could set up a fake scenario including multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties, Smaka said.
“It is part of a concerted effort with all Southern Nevada law enforcement to make sure we are at our utmost preparedness for any event that may occur in our valley,” he said before Thursday’s drill.
Since the Route 91 Harvest festival attack, law enforcement agencies have worked to prepare for similar scenarios. Many of those participating in Thursday’s drill responded to the mass shooting, so the training is personal, Smaka said.
“There is a lot of things we did right,” he said about the response on Oct. 1, 2017. “There is a lot of things that can definitely be improved on. We’re going to improve on those deficiencies and make ourselves that much more of a total force when that call comes again.
“What I personally found that night was you have a lot of information coming across the different channels from different agencies.”
For those participating in the drill, it’s not a matter of whether another tragedy will happen, but when.
“We see it every day on the news. There’s some active shooter in some city. It doesn’t matter how big of a city or how small of a town,” Smaka said.
While the officers prepared to storm the building in a scenario none want to relive, Smaka said he wants civilians to know that first responders are equally affected by tragedies in the valley.
“We are members of this community. We’re your brothers. We’re your sons, your wives, your neighbors,” he said. “We take this very seriously, and we are committed to answering that call when the call arises.”