Cal-JAC’s Enhanced Skills Module Prepares First Responders for Active Shooter Incident

Photos by Robbie Panco

The horrific mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have once again brought stark attention to the horrors and uncertainty firefighters face every time the alarm bell rings. The reality of not knowing what’s on the other side of that call requires first responders to be ready for the unthinkable.

Earlier this year, the California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC) held a day of skills training to prepare fire and law enforcement officers for the sad and all-too-common reality of a mass shooting incident. The Cal-JAC has been instructing fire departments and law enforcement agencies in Unified Response to Violent Incidents (URVI)since 2013, and the skills scenario was an opportunity to put the classroom training into action.

Over 130 firefighters and law enforcement officers from nearly a dozen agencies came together as a unified force to respond to a mass shooting scenario during a simulated rock concert at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. Participating responders were met with realistic chaos as dozens of victims were fleeing the scene and others called out in agony, many covered in fake blood. The visual of victims on the ground with realistic gunshot wounds or being carried out by firefighters was unnerving to guests invited to observe the training.

“When we see what is happening in the world around us, we ponder when it will happen here,” said Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Washington. “Having the opportunity to train together under realistic conditions will set us up to respond quickly and effectively to save lives and protect the public.”

The future of enhanced public safety starts with a unified approach to training and response to prepare for crisis. The Cal-JAC’s URVI is based on nationally recognized policies utilized across the country as part of the "new normal," so first responders are prepared for

the unthinkable.

“Large events at venues such as the Rose Bowl create special concerns for our local responders,” said Yvonne de la Peña, Executive Director of Cal-JAC. “Having the opportunity to train under realistic conditions in the venue itself gives our first responders a chance to feel the stress, coordinate efforts and make critical decisions in real time.”

URVI would not be possible without grant funding from the California Office of Emergency Services. This grant gives participating departments thorough training courses and procedures to implement in their community

so first responders are prepared for any call.

For more information about the URVI program, visit