Preparedness for Mass Shootings

Oct 3, 2017

Is Louisiana ready to respond to a tragedy like the one in Las Vegas? According to Mike Steele with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, they’re as ready as anyone can be for a horrific event such as this.

He says state and local first responders practice for situations like this all the time.

“Law enforcement agencies typically hold a number of active shooter drills throughout the year,” says Steele. “They’re routine now. Every law enforcement agency across the country has probably been participating in these types of activities going back to Columbine.”

Known in law enforcement parlance as “running scenarios”, the drills bring together local, state and federal authorities to practice their responses to shootings. They hold these drills in schools, theatres, shopping malls – usually after hours, so as not to alarm the public.

“It is critical to do the exercises so everybody knows their role. It’s almost like muscle memory with a sporting activity: you know where to go, what to do, what your role is, and how to do it,” GOHSEP’s spokesman explains.

“I think it’s safe to say, given the scope of this event, you’re going to see a lot more scenarios where maybe a high-rise building such as this situation, was involved.”

Steele says given the prevalence of immense crowds attending events like Jazz Fest, Super Bowls, LSU games, and Mardi Gras, Louisiana’s Department of Health has long had mass casualty plans in place.

“Some of that information is not the best to divulge out into the public, you know, for safety reasons, but that coordination effort has already been worked out.”

Prior to the Vegas shootings, first responders from multiple agencies had already scheduled an active shooter drill for this upcoming weekend. Steele says it will now likely reference some of the situation that developed in Las Vegas.

“You take what’s happened in the past, kind of build on that, and use that as part of your preparation, should you ever – God forbid – face something like that.”