HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico County public safety agencies — including police, fire and EMS –conducted an emergency-response exercise at Short Pump Town Center Sunday morning.
The full-scale drill occurred from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. before the mall’s regular opening to the public at 11 a.m.
The exercise was an opportunity for police and fire units to practice a large-scale response to an active threat situation. In this case, the scenario was that of an active shooter.
“This exercise allows us to practice a lot of the skills that are necessary for really any kind of an incident that could generate a lot of injuries or loss of life, such as traffic crashes and things of that nature,” said Emergency Manager for Henrico, Rob Rowley. “This is an exercise, but people from both the police department, the fire department, as well as several of our partners, including the mall and others, have gone to great lengths to make this extremely realistic training.”
Some service members wore high-visibility vests to indicate that they were in the “command and control” role. These individuals provided direction and coordination to those acting as responders in the scenario.
“This is a great setting for the exercise and we really appreciate the mall’s partnership,” Rowley said. “This setting is complicated because it mixes both the indoor environment with the outdoor environment. And that allows us to practice a lot of the skills that could be necessary for both of those settings.”
The exercise required extensive work from people behind the scenes to happen; from role-playing victims with the use of makeup to audible devices simulating the sound of gunfire.
“We practice a lot of law enforcement medical skills one at a time,” Rowley said. “But exercises like this are really kind of that big game day where all of the skills that go into this come together for the larger incident response.”