Preparing for the worst: Nevada County trains for active shooter situation at Brighton Greens | TheUnion.com

Preparing for the worst: Nevada County trains for active shooter situation at Brighton Greens

John Orona
Staff Writer

Nevada County Risk Management, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, Grass Valley Police Department and the Nevada County Executive Office held an active shooter training drill Friday morning at the Brighton Greens Resource Center in Grass Valley.

The drill came about as a result of an independent assessment from a security expert that recommended the county prepare for such a situation in response to the increased number of similar incidents across the country, particularly in government agencies.

“I think that it’s important to be prepared and we’re really trying to promote the safety of our employees and of the community,” said Brittany Tassone, an administrative analyst who works in the center.

The drill is the third that county law enforcement agencies have held and the first at Brighton Greens. Another is tentatively planned for Truckee, although it is in very early stages and would require coordination with other agencies.

“People in this country who are most prepared for active shooters are our kids and students They’ve been preparing for this for years; it’s the adults that we are trying to get on board.”— Grass Valley Police Lt. Joe Matteoni

Officials applied feedback from previous drills by firing blank rounds to simulate a shooting and signify the start of the drill. They had previously struck wooden blocks or played wireless speakers to replicate the sound of gunfire.

“We sent out surveys after the first two exercises which led the sound to evolve,” Tassone said.

‘Run, Hide, Fight’

Even with the more realistic gun fire sounds, some employees on the opposite end of the building did not hear the blank rounds go off.

According to Grass Valley Police Officer Devon Vossi, who played the role of the active shooter, everyone involved quickly took cover or ran away, except for the first two people he encountered who were tagged with stickers to signify that they may have been spotted in a real shooting situation.

“It was definitely interesting to be on that side, I’m usually on the other end of it,” Vossi said.

Employees at the Brighton Greens center worked with law enforcement officials last month to plan the best response and also trained on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Run, Hide, Fight” protocol to prepare for the exercise.

FEMA recommends people first run away from a shooter and warn others, if possible. Barring that, people should hide and barricade themselves from the shooter. As a last resort, FEMA recommends taking aggressive action against the shooter, including creating makeshift weapons and recruiting others to ambush the shooter. Employees were instructed not to elect the “fight” option they learned in their Run, Hide, Fight training.

ONLY A DRILL

Signage and security alerted customers of the drill, though the center was open and “business as usual” in order to simulate a real scenario as closely as possible. The center avoided scheduling appointment during the time frame of the drill and alerted nearby businesses, although one customer was in the building during the exercise.

Officials had counselors on hand from the Nevada County Search and Rescue team to talk through the situation with evacuated employees who may need time to reflect and decompress.

Although some employees were described as blasé and impatient about the exercise, others who had been in real active shooter situations before underlined the drill’s importance.

“We do have a lot of people who say even as a practice scenario it’s extremely scary,” Grass Valley Police Lt. Joe Matteoni said. “But what’s even scarier is an actual event. When the time to act arrives the time to prepare has passed, so let’s prepare now and be ready for it.”

According to Matteoni, drills such as these are now as necessary as fire and earthquake preparedness and some are more ready than others.

“People in this country who are most prepared for active shooters are our kids and students,” Matteoni said. “They’ve been preparing for this for years; it’s the adults that we are trying to get on board.”

Contact Staff Writer John Orona at jorona@theunion.com or 530-477-4229.


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