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Public Safety

Active shooter training next week on UI campus not related to recent mass shootings

Training has been scheduled for two years with agencies across Johnson County

University of Iowa Police Capt. Mark Bullock watches as fans begin to enter at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
University of Iowa Police Capt. Mark Bullock watches as fans begin to enter at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Public safety agencies from across Johnson County will conduct active shooter training on the University of Iowa campus next week.

Johnson County Emergency Management Director Dave Wilson said nearly every county law enforcement department, Iowa City and Coralville fire departments, Johnson County Ambulance and a couple private ambulance companies will participate in the training at the UI Campus Wellness and Recreation Center, 309 S. Madison St., on Aug. 13.

While the training comes on the heels of two deadly shootings this weekend — in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio — Wilson said the training was not in response to those tragedies.

“This has nothing to do with this weekend,” he said. “It’s been in the planning for two years.”

Wilson said he didn’t want to share many details about the training ahead of time, but said it was based on an active shooter incident. The training will involve taking unarmed emergency medical service personnel into the “warm zone” of a building where a shooting has taken place, triaging them and quickly extracting them into the “cold zone,” Wilson said.

In an active shooter scenario, a warm zone has been cleared by law enforcement and the threat has been mitigated, but is not considered secure. The cold zone is an area in which little or no threat exists.

“Basically, all we do in those warm zones is apply tourniquets and try to stop life-threatening bleeding,” Wilson said. “The goal is to get them out to treat them without any further threats.”

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Active shooter training has been common since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December 2012 and is “the new reality,” Wilson said.

“It’s something that we need to practice,” he said.

Iowa City Police Sgt. Derek Frank said the timing of the training is a coincidence, but also said it was a good opportunity to practice new skills.

“It’ll help us to be able to implement some new strategies we haven’t used in the past,” Frank said.

Training practices such as these, Wilson said, have been staged annually for more than a decade, though they do not always involve active shooter scenarios. In the past, multiple agencies also have trained for other crises, such as a hazardous material spill.

Training exercises have taken place at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Kinnick Stadium, the Iowa City Airport, Integrated DNA Technologies and area schools. Local departments — including the University of Iowa’s — also offer active shooter training in their jurisdictions on a smaller scale, Wilson said.

“This is a much more complex, much more diverse group than we normally do,” he said.

The area around the Campus Wellness and Recreation will be marked and closed off to the public during the training, which will last from approximately 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The streets, sidewalks and parking lots affected by the training area will be:

• Madison Street in front of the wellness center

• One lane of eastbound Burlington Street in front of the wellness center

• Westbound Court Street between Front and Madison streets

• Northbound Front Street behind the wellness center

• Sidewalks corresponding with the closed streets

• Parking Lot 11 on the UI campus will be closed to the public, but open to permit holders.

Frank said the police department is asking for continued vigilance from the public in the wake of this past weekend’s shootings.

“The nature of these type of calls is that they’re completely a surprise ... which is what the assailant wants,” he said. “We just ask people to be as observant as possible, to call in and let us know about anything suspicious they see, whether it’s in the moment or ahead of time.”

• Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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