OREM, Utah — A simulation played out on the Utah Valley University campus Friday, that everyone hopes never becomes a reality.
More than 100 students, faculty and actors were allowed in a secure campus building to participate in an active shooter drill.
“The risk of not doing it is not worth it,” said Robin Ebmeyer, the school’s director of emergency management and safety. “I feel like we would just be putting our heads in the sand to not pay attention and to not train.”
The simulation began with an actor portraying a gunman, storming into the building and firing several blanks from a weapon.
“It is always surreal to hear gunshots,” Ebmeyer said.
People in the building took shelter and called campus dispatch once they heard the shots. Within a minute, first responders were on the scene. Actors portraying the wounded were given first aid and transported to local hospitals.
“The more we prepare, the more safe we become,” said Chief Matt Pedersen of the Utah Valley University Police Department. “When shots were fired, emergency buttons were hit so dispatch knew very quickly.”
The drill is a test to help campus security learn their strengths and weaknesses.
“Communications are always an issue. Always,” Ebmeyer said.
The sight of people with fake wounds and the sound of gunshots may have been uncomfortable for many to stomach.
“It’s a scary thing to think about,” Ebmeyer said. “If we do this, we feel like if something like this were to happen on our campus, we’d have a better chance of survival.”
Thanks to the exercise, school officials believe the campus is safer than it was before the drill.
“We really want to get it right and make our mistakes in training so we don’t in real exercises,” Pedersen said.
The university plans to hold a drill like this every few years.