On Wednesday, January 31, the City of Pampa organized an active shooter drill event that took place near Pampa Regional Medical Center and involved all of the city’s services including Pampa Police Department, Gray County Sheriff’s Office, EMS, Texas Highway Patrol, Pampa Fire Department and a handful of talented actors from the Pampa High School theatre department and other city volunteers.
Through the efforts of numerous city workers and personnel, the drill was a major success and the residents of Pampa can take comfort in knowing that if tragedy should strike, our hometown heroes will be prepared to take action.
The drill took place in an office suite set up as a mock polling center with voters inside when an angry individual “opened fire” in the building.
Pampa police officers quickly arrived on scene and made their way into the building to subdue the “shooter.”
Emergency services arrived immediately after to tend to those who were “injured” and transported them to the hospital, keeping calm as one particular actor was screaming and behaving hysterically.
Pampa Regional Medical Center personnel participated in the drill and kept watch at all doors, turning away all actors who tried to enter during the event as part of their safety protocol.
“Live updates” were given to the media from Assistant City Manager Dustin Miller, which included participants from The Pampa News and News Channel 10 out of Amarillo, who were also there to “cover” the event.
Keeping the scenario as real as possible, Miller gave the media a “brief summary of events”, and discussed the types of questions he would be willing or not willing to discuss in the case of an actual active shooter event.
“I want you guys to understand why we do it the way we do it,” said Miller. “Let’s all learn from each other and make sure we’re all better in a situation like this if it does arise.”
Jana Williamson, Director of Communications from the Pampa Independent School District, was also there informing the media of their protocols that the schools would take during an active shooter event as well.
“We basically have a command at our administration, so our director of safety and communication is there talking to Troy and letting him know what the situation is”, Williamson said.
The drill lasted for about two hours and Pampa city officials are extremely happy with the way the events unfolded and the response times of all the services involved.
“Today was a full-scale exercise for an active shooter response for our local community services in Pampa,” said Brian Massey, Lieutenant for the Pampa Police Department and Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator.
“This is a continual process- active attack training is something that law enforcement and any emergency service industry are constantly exercising, trying to improve and refine upon.”
“It takes a lot of planning and development to get to this point, and there’s a lot of sub-training and drills that occur prior to this. This was the big exercise.”
“It helps us to prepare and respond to an incident like this, and we hope and pray that it never happens, but if it does- we want our community to have confidence that our emergency response personnel is able to respond appropriately to one of these terrible, tragic situations.”
“To all the agencies that were involved in this, thank you for your time and thank you for everything you do. Thank you Pampa Regional Medical Center for letting us use their facility to better help with this collaboration and this partnership that we have with all of our stakeholders here in the city of Pampa and Gray County to be better prepared for an incident like this.”
“This came after an accumulation of a year’s worth of planning,” said Troy Schwiegerath, Emergency Management Coordinator for Gray County.
“First, we had the table-top exercise that emphasized the ‘active shooter’, and we moved it to a full-scale incident to where we actually had people respond.”
“It took a year’s worth of planning and multiple agencies- the college, the high school, police department and all of our emergency departments were involved in this to make this happen.”
“One of the big things that I do in my job is to make sure that emergency services are prepared to take care of its citizens, so I have to always look at Are we ready for this to happen? Are we ready? So, my main goal and the main function of my job is to make sure they are trained to do those things to protect those citizens. I can’t control what happens, but I can try to control how we respond to it- and the better we do that, the more lives we save.”
“I would like to thank everybody that participated in this today; Clarendon College, Pampa High School and all the other agencies that were involved in this year-long planning that finally came together and they did an amazing job.”
The Pampa News thanks the City of Pampa for inviting us to this important event- and a big thank you to everyone at the Police Department, Fire Department, Sheriff’s Office, the troopers at the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Emergency Services personnel for keeping our community safe!