Tue. Apr 23rd, 2019

Blow by Blow: Recounting the Active Shooter Drill

Active Shooter, David Mucker

By Sam Combest — 

The University of Louisville School of Medicine active shooter drill March 30 scattered 40 victims across the HSC Campus as part of the Disaster Medicine Certificate Program.

The drill was truly live action, with 70 participants acting and learning. Two remote explosive devices were detonated at 9:13 a.m. to simulate a bomb with a potentially hazardous gas leak.

Following the two explosions, two shooters entered the corridor with AK-47 simulators loaded with blanks. They carried backpacks of ammunition, wore masks and had bullet-proof vests.

The perpetrators shot several rounds outside before entering the building where observers could hear continued gunfire. One of the shooters went to the second floor balcony to spray more shots and reload his weapon before recanvasing the second floor.

Observers could hear the radio traffic with haunting calls for police, notifying them of active shooter situation.

To observers, it seemed nearly an hour of gunfire elapsed before University of Louisville Police arrived and entered the Kornhauser Auditorium. In reality, it was six minutes.

The immediate radio call from ULPD once they entered was “multiple casualty situation.”

University police  announced “First shooter down” approximately four minutes after they entered the building. This followed the noise of rounds shot back and forth.

Louisville SWAT arrived 10 minutes after the first shots rang out.

The radio crackled again, reporting casualties on the first floor.

The next call over the radio was officer down.

Approximately 12 minutes after the initial explosion, the radio rang out, “Second shooter down.”

Four SWAT team members entered with a medic to assess the scene.

Roughly 15 minutes from the first explosion, police swept the first floor again, reporting multiple casualties before the task force members entered the scene to assess victim needs.

At 9:40 a.m. the captured shooter was in custody and escorted from the building.

More Louisville Emergency Medical Services Rescue Task Force members and SWAT entered the building to help move victims to safety.

The Louisville Fire Department set up a decontamination area. Medical students triaged victims. They wore hazmat suits for clean-up.

At 9:47 a.m. two victims exited the building, were tagged for triage, then put through a hazmat clean up where they were stripped naked. Really, they wore black shirts that say “I’m naked.” Once they were cleaned, they were treated on-scene before being sent to the makeshift ER.

Forty-six minutes after the explosion, observers are given their first up-close view of the injuries and casualties sustained. The responders escort the victims from the first floor outside.

Victims with leg injuries such as a gun shot wounds, femoral compound fractures and lacerations were rolled out on office chairs.

Originally, workers were tagging, decontaminating and triaging victims based on order of how they exited quickly became an issue, when confronted with a victim on a gorney with a gunshot wound to the neck. Workers switched their order and began to treat victims based on severity of their injuries such as gunshot wounds to the chest, abdomen or neck.

Eleven minutes after the victims were removed from the first floor, the all-clear was given and search of the second floor began.

Once the second floor victims emerged from the building, the medical students triaging victims cared for two medical dummies with gruesome injuries.

From the time of the first explosion to the last victim being sent to the ER after triage a full hour had passed.

Photo By David Mucker / The Louisville Cardinal 

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