Mass casualty drill at Norman High paints realistic picture of school shooting

Jun. 14—University of Oklahoma police were the first to enter the Norman High School science building Tuesday afternoon.

Guns drawn, the contact team's job was to "rapidly address" the active threat inside.

"If they hear gunshots, they're going to run right to where those gunshots are and address that instead of making the area safe," said Scott Schatzer, a law enforcement veteran and emergency tactical medic who assisted victims during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

The next group of law enforcement officers to enter the building were followed by firefighters and emergency medical services personnel trained to "stop the dying process."

"What we're teaching today is EMS, fire and police working together to come in, then police make the area safe and then fire department and EMS will start dealing with patients as rapidly as we can," Schatzer told The Transcript.

"We're not doing any advanced paramedic skills inside this active area. "We're stopping the bleeding, we're dealing with chest wounds ... basically the things that can kill people the fastest."

Shooting victims portrayed by volunteers during the training exercise were briefed along with response team members. Together they drilled multiple times, changing up the scenarios and the severity of the injuries with each repetition.

A teenage volunteer with a simulated gunshot wound writhes in pain as officers move quickly up the hallway clearing classrooms and then turn a corner with their guns drawn before locating the teenager and a man who has been shot in the stomach.

Firefighters assess the wounds and call out for medics who pull the victims around the corner to a cleared classroom known as a CCP, or Casualty Collection Point, where they are treated further.

"This is something that we are very very passionate about," Schatzer said. "We as first responders always have to be a worst-case scenario planner. If I can plan a worse case scenario and I can make it less of a worse-case scenario, that's my job."

David Teuscher, emergency management coordinator for Norman Public Schools, said the district partners with the Norman Fire Department and EMSSTAT, Norman Regional Health System's paramedic department, on trainings.

"It allows them to see the inside of our schools, get used to the inside of some of our locations," he said, "because they don't always get to come in the schools, so that's helpful for us so they know where they're going and what they're doing."

Trainings like the one Tuesday focus on mass casualty type of events, Teuscher said.

"I hope to God we never have anything like that in our community," he said. "But if we did then these guys will be well-trained up and able to do that."