UNT and Denton collaborate on full-scale disaster drill

UNT and Denton collaborate on full-scale disaster drill

UNT and Denton collaborate on full-scale disaster drill
May 01
01:25 2014

Kelly Norman // Contributing Writer

The City of Denton and UNT’s Emergency Administration and Planning Program are collaborating on a full-scale disaster drill at Discovery Park on May 2.

The event marks the first time UNT will be partnering with the city’s annual emergency disaster drill. While UNT’s EADP Program provides students with classroom training in the form of workshops and tabletop exercises, these kinds of drills give students the opportunity to witness a realistic mock disaster.

The scenario for the drill will be an active shooter on UNT’s campus. The exercise starts after the shooter is no longer a threat, said Brad Scott, Emergency Management coordinator for UNT, who will be making sure everything goes as planned. EMS, Careflite helicopters, police and firefighters will be on the scene to assist the 30 or so volunteer students in anyway they can, he said.

“All of Denton’s first-responders will be active on the scene after being notified of a shooting, but will not know the specific details of the event,” UNT Police Capt. Jim Coffey said.

Coffey said this is a great opportunity because it gives all of these first responders the chance to react in a real-life scenario and test their skills.

“It also opens the door for future events like this to be done on campus,” he said.

Coffey has been a part of the UNT police system since the 1990s and, as a captain, has overseen special events and emergency management for the past seven years. Along with Scott, he will be helping control the activity at the scene and making sure things are happening as planned.

“There has been a big push for universities to get involved with this and put plans in place,” Scott said. “We have had active shooter training before, but not at this caliber. It’s a valuable thing the university is doing and it reflects their priorities and the need to put an emphasis on campus safety.”

Luis Tapia, public administration professor and internship coordinator for the EADP Program, said the student volunteers will be playing disaster victims and get made up with moulage, which are professionally applied fake injuries for the purpose of training emergency response teams.

“It’s pretty realistic looking stuff,” Scott said. “Whenever the first-responders come in, instead of explaining what the situation would be, they can actually see it.”

“I remember one student several years ago had a two-by-four that they broke in half and taped one piece to the front of his shirt and the other to the back to look like it was going through him,” Tapia said. “One year a woman even pretended to be in labor so it would simulate the tough decisions of medics of who to help first.”

The city and UNT will send out a Code Red announcement on Friday to alert Denton residents that the event taking place is only a drill, and not real-life, Scott said. Spectators will not be allowed to watch because it will be treated like a real crime scene.

After the two and a half hour event, the city and UNT officials will do a “hot wash” which is a quick review for feedback and an “after-action” review to examine what needs to be improved, Scott said.

“I think right now we are as prepared as we can be. But there’s no question we’re definitely going to learn a lot from this event,” Coffey said. “Another outcome that we are hoping for is the EADP students becoming more prepared for their careers.”

Tapia agrees with Coffey that the exercise will be a tremendous benefit for the students to apply what they learn in the classroom by observing it in real time.

“Hopefully they will become a better emergency manager in the future because of it,” he said.

Feature photo: A traffic sign reminds students who enter Discovery Park about the disaster drill taking place on Friday morning. The drill will be an active shooter scenario and will take approximately two-and-a-half hours. Photo by Edward Balusek / Staff Photographer 

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