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Active shooter training preps emergency crews

Members of the Kahnawake Peacekeepers and Kahnawake Fire Brigade responded to an “active shooter” with “casualties” Saturday morning at the fire hall.

Dozens of officers and paramedics from the Kahnawake Peacekeepers and Kahnawake Fire Brigade (KFB) put their knowledge and skills to the test by responding to a mass casualty training exercise early Saturday morning.

The scenario involved an active shooter at the Fire Hall, with over a dozen volunteers

“There were two main objectives that we were looking at. We wanted to test our communications and our operations with the PKs, we want to make sure that we have proper communication between the two with this type of incident. You want to make sure you can communicate affectively,” said Amanda-Lee Phillips, quality assurance and medical instructor at the KFB.

PKs stormed the KFB hall Saturday morning as an “active shooter” required dealing with. The training exercise put PKs and EMTs in a situation they hope to never be in. (Jessica Deer, The Eastern Door)

“Second, this type of scenario has been in the news in the past couple of years and it has become more and more a reality, so we wanted to make sure that all our first responders are prepared and equipped to respond to this type of incident.”

Phillips organized the training with fellow KFB member Wihse Stacey.

For the KFB, the exercise highlighted their strengths, identified some of their weaknesses, and gave them a better idea of the type of training they’ll need in the future.

“We did this training and we obviously learned a lot from it, and we’re going to have training that we’re going to have to do with both our respective departments,” said Phillips.

“It was the first time anybody here has really been involved in training like this, so we expect little bumps, but overall we identified all the injured people, the PKs did their job, they secured the building, they got the shooter and we sent all our patients to the hospital.”

Over a dozen students from John Abbott College’s Pre-Hospital Emergency Care program, as well as some community members and Eastern Door assistant editor Daniel J. Rowe, volunteered to be patients for the exercise.

“I was shot in the leg in the training, and needed to be helped out of a building. While it was fun to role play and see how everything worked, it was also very surreal thinking about people who are really in that situation scared out of their minds, and having to deal with such trauma,” said Rowe.

“For my portion specifically, I’m the instructor for all the paramedics, so I want to make sure that their able to properly triage patients and make sure that they’re getting to the respective hospitals in a timely matter.

“We learned that we still have a couple of things to work on, but overall, we can handle a situation in this size,” said Phillips.

Acacia Prophet, a teacher at Kateri School, said being a volunteer victim was just as much a valuable learning experience.   

“I thought it was a unique example of a real life situation that could arise that we want to be extra prepared for. You want to be prepared because the situation is so intense, you want to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing to ensure everybody’s safety,” said Prophet.

“I think it helps a lot because it is so scary, and that helps you to get those nerves out of the way and really think through what you would do in a situation. As teacher, I can’t afford to be nervous in that situation, I have to be able to react right away and protect all my students, and so I thought it was a really great opportunity to get those nerves out in a safe environment.”

This was the third large-scale training exercise both Stacey and Phillips have organized. Last spring, they organized a mass casualty bus accident at the old Kahnawake Survival School grounds and the year before held a simulation outside of the Sports Complex with people who were contaminated with ammonia. 

“We want to get all our members on a fake scene and get them to do real-life scenarios to make sure we’re prepared for anything. Every year, the scenario is different, some years it’s more focused on the fire fighting aspect. Other years it’s more on the medical aspect or the paramedics’ job like today, so we try to involve everybody,” said Phillips.

jessicad@easterndoor.com

Jessica Deer
Jessica Deer is the deep-thinking, quick-witted (and perhaps heavily caffeinated) columnist. She began her career at The Eastern Door back in 2008 as a summer student. In addition to writing about youth leadership, ranting about Indigenous politics, as well as raising awareness of cultural appropriation issues in The Caffeinated Potadoe, Jessica has been a staff reporter since 2015 and does on-call layout and graphic design. She also updates the website, so if something is broken... it is probably her fault.
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