PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – First responders from across the region participated in an active shooter drill at the TriMet Washington Park Station Monday morning.
The full-scale drill was funded by a United States Department of Homeland Security grant. TriMet officials said the goal of the drill was to better understand the complexities involved with a regional response to an active shooter, and to identify ways to improve the response in the future.
Harry Saporta, TriMet’s Executive Director of Safety and Security, said it took about a year and a half of planning to run Monday’s drill.
“The idea is to make this as realistic as possible,” Saporta said.
Lisa Perl, a contractor hired by TriMet for the drill, helped add to the realism by adding special effects and make up to the cast members.
“It’s a little bit of a hobby,” Pearl said as she applied latex to a cast member’s forehead. “You’ve been pistol whipped, sweetie. I’m sorry,” Pearl said as she described the cast member’s injury.
John A. Sylvester, a trainer with the company contracted for Monday’s drill, said the scenario that took place Monday included two men, upset with the government who overtook a TriMet train at the Washington Park Station and started shooting.
“It’s a unique situation,” Sylvester said. “It’s in a tunnel close to 360-feet underground.”
The event location was chosen specifically because it presents new challenges that include limited egress locations and limited cell phone service.
“We’re going to see what the officers do when they encounter 10, 20, 30 victims rushing out of the different elevators,” Sylvester said.
When the exercise started, the two suspects walked through the TriMet MAX train and started to shoot the cast members at random.
“When the first responders go down there, they’ll see people with gunshot wounds, abrasions, some will have psychosomatic injuries,” Sylvester said.
While police trained for their tactical response, firefighters and paramedics had the opportunity to practice their response to a mass causality situation.
The firefighters set up a triage center where cast members were examined. The most critically wounded got treatment right away. Some of the cast members’ victim role cards explained that they would not survive their injuries.
“Our ultimate goal is to make our transit system as safe as possible for our customers, our employees and the general public,” Saporta said.
Cast member Bobby Silva, whose father works as a lieutenant with the Transit Police Department, said his victim role play description included a fatal gunshot wound to the back.
Silva said even though he had been briefed on what would happen inside the tunnel when the exercise started, he said it was still a bit unnerving to be in the midst of a such a real world scenario.
“When you’re sitting on the train, for me, it [was] a little bit more scary when you heard the rounds go off,” Silva said.
He said he was impressed with the professionalism shown by the first responders.
“The skills of the officers were pretty impressive,” Silva said. “It seems like they did a great job.”
TriMet said they will debrief with the various agencies that participated in the shooting drill to see what lessons were learned. The training event was also recorded for other agencies to use.