Saddleback College Partners With Orange County Fire Authority and Sheriff’s Department in Active Shooter Incident Exercise


Mission Viejo, CA – Representatives from more than 15 law enforcement and emergency response agencies joined Saddleback College yesterday in the college’s first multi-agency, multi-discipline, multi-jurisdiction training response to an active shooter drill. The collaboration between Saddleback College, the Orange County Fire Authority, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department included more than 100 volunteers, bystanders, and observers, and echoed the precautions law enforcement officers are taking nationwide in response to recent shootings.

“You’ve seen these in the news,” said Orange County Fire Authority Captain Mike Morganstern. “It happens in the east, west, at universities, high schools, and even elementary schools. We are doing these drills all across the county because the more we practice the better off we are. The more realistic this is the more training officers and firemen can get.”

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, was among Tuesday’s participants expressing that student safety was his first priority. “As college president, as a citizen, as a human being, I cannot imagine a worse nightmare than if this scenario were to unfold.  We must take every step necessary to be prepared and to quickly and effectively act if such an event were to occur. ”

Tuesday’s exercise included over 50 student and staff volunteers who simulated the roles of victims and bystanders. The student volunteers are taking classes in the college’s cosmetology, nursing, or theatre program and were encouraged to make the exercise realistic.  As such, make-up was applied by the cosmetology students to simulate wounds, and nursing students used their knowledge in their response to other “victims.”  Students in the theatre program used their acting skills to add to the realistic environment.

Many student volunteers said they were excited to be of help to participating officers and to be given an acting role in the simulation. Saddleback nursing student and volunteer Christine Stich said she believed the exercise had also served as training for their prospective careers.

“As a nursing student I gained a perspective as to what the experience might be like for the victim,” said Stich. “To think about the possible mechanics of their injury. We do trainings like this in our program too. The more you treat it like it’s real, the more you benefit from it.”

Saddleback student Don Congjuico said the simulation allowed volunteers to understand the large role law enforcement would have in a real event. “Today was insight into their world.  Seeing how they operate, God forbid it happens, we now know what to do to better help officers.”

“Two simulations were performed in an effort to give as many law enforcement officers and firefighters, as possible, an opportunity to participate in the simulation,” said Saddleback College Chief of Police Christopher Wilkinson.  Rescuers had applied the success and learnings of the first scenario to the second exercise that gave way to a more efficient rescue.

“Recent events have brought this about,” said Captain Morganstern. “We want to work closely with our local law enforcement to better understand our roles in an event like this.”

Participating agencies included:

California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
California State University, Fullerton
Cerritos College Police Department
El Camino College
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Irvine Valley College Police Department
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Emergency Operations Bureau
Mira Costa College Police Department
Mission Viejo Police Department
Orange Coast College
Orange County Fire Authority
Orange County Sheriff’s Department
Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Juvenile Services Bureau
Palomar College
Saddleback College
Saddleback Medical Center
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
Vanguard University

To view additional news coverage visit: CBS Los Angeles and Orange County Register.