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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif .– The Army Reserve 63rd Readiness Division and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office conducted a joint full-blown action exercise for active shooter events at Sgt.James Witowski Armed Forces Reserve Center, Aug. 26, 2021.

At the six-hour event, the first here since 2017, more than 100 first aiders from civil, police, fire and rescue services went through the five training sessions.

Five law enforcement agencies and three fire departments participated, including “agencies from Santa Clara County, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, CHP (California Highway Patrol), Palo Alto and NASA,” said Felix Purvis, co-director of the exercise and regional counterterrorism Specialist, G-34 Counter Terrorism Division, 63rd RD.

Police, fire, ambulance and training support personnel for the event were coordinated by Detective Robert Aviles, the exercise’s co-director, and an SCCSO intelligence officer assigned to the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, the Bay Area fusion center on Northern California’s coasts .

“The law enforcement response was a major climax as this was the first time so many authorities have participated in an active shooting incident (here),” Purvis said. “The introduction of fire-fighters to conduct accident activities made the scenario more realistic and qualified the exercise as a comprehensive event.”

“So we’re trying to put first responders in a low-stress environment that simulates an active shooter in the workplace or an inside threat scenario,” Aviles said.

63rd RD Personnel participated in the first training scenario, the remaining exercise simulations were for the first responders to present and practice as a combined cross-agency team in the event that they had to react in real time to a real active shooter event.

For the 63rd RD, the purpose of the active shooter exercise was “to assess how staff from SGT James Witowski AFRC would react during an incident involving active shooters,” Purvis said.

The civil and military personnel of the 63rd RD were assessed only during the first iteration for how they interacted with the emergency personnel at the site of the incident.

“The main goal is to bring local first responders together to implement the protocol for active shooters in the Santa Clara District as they would in a real-life situation without a ‘training environment,'” said Aviles. “They may be working with people from another agency and need to adjust their tactics and understanding of protocol application accordingly because they don’t know who else will be here as part of their contact team or as part of their rescue mission.”

During the event, the RD 63rd facility’s mass alert system repeatedly sounded alarms and announcements as another aspect of realism added to the first iteration training.

In addition, according to Aviles, the SCCSO’s training department provided blank shot simulations to improve the realism of the scenario.

According to Aviles, the SCCSO Active Shooter Protocol instructs first responder law enforcement personnel who arrive on site during an Active Shooter incident to immediately organize as a contact team.

Then the CT pair or group responds immediately by dealing with the active shooter (s) until they eliminate the threat (s).

After the active shooter (s) no longer poses a threat, the CT consolidates outside the facility or the danger area, then connects with the rescue service and fire-fighting personnel to inform them and form a rescue team.

Next, the RTF enters the previously enemy building or active rifle area that is being escorted by the original CT to search, rescue, and rescue injured or ambulatory personnel and then enter them during the second phase of the SCCSO active rifle protocol to bring to an accident collection point.

The 63rd RD personnel had different goals during this training, instructing them to run (evacuate), hide, or fight, Purvis said.

“The overall performance of the exercise was excellent,” said Purvis. “The staff carried out procedures, hiding and combat protocol procedures without errors, which included an evacuation of the facility to designated assembly points and ensured the responsibility of the staff.”

Participants said it was a “good experience,” added Aviles.

“I thought it was very realistic, well planned, and as close to reality as possible without actually being reality,” said S. Kotani, Public Safety Officer, Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (Law), a member of the first law enforcement contact teams during the first iteration.

Future plans include this event every three years, and in-house exercises for active shooters are conducted annually, Purvis added.

“Our partnership with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office has been excellent in every way,” said Purvis.

Detective Aviles was integral to serving as co-director and liaising directly with first responder staff, Purvis said. He was invaluable in planning, training, organizing, coordinating, and conducting this exercise with the collaboration and assistance of the 63d RD G-34. His actions help to make our staff and our facility safer.

“I thought it was great that it was as realistic as possible,” said B. McMoore, Public Safety Officer, Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (Law), who was also a member of the first law enforcement contact team during the first iteration. “I thought it was really good, the alarm went off, bodies were on the floor, civilians ran out and our reaction to it.

“We cannot emphasize (enough) how great the chance was to be involved in this type of training with Mountain View and CHP as well and just see how we can all do our part to neutralize the threat,” he added .

Recording date: 08/26/2021
Release Date: 08/31/2021 7:22 PM
Story ID: 404295
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