Cal-JAC Expands Groundbreaking Active Shooter Training

Recent enhanced skills modules build upon foundation of the Unified Response to Violent Incidents training

While hoping for the best, it is best to be prepared for the worst.  

No one knows the truth behind this statement better than California’s first responders, and both firefighters and law enforcement officials were given the chance to prepare for the unimaginable.

Earlier this year, Cal-JAC held a pair of simulated active shooter exercises in two locations across California. The exercises, which took place in San Diego and Sacramento, were conducted as part of an “enhanced skills module,” to build upon the skills learned in its earlier Unified Response to Violent Incidents training.

“California’s firefighters are being asked to train for, and respond to, the threat present in today’s society,” said Dan Terry, chair of the Cal-JAC. “It’s a sad reality, but at the end of the day, it’s a reality for which we must be ready.” 

This latest step in Cal-JAC’s URVItraining, made possible by a grant from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, allowed dozens of California fire and law enforcement personnel to take part in exercises designed to simulate acts of violence in multiple environments.  In these exercises, firefighters and police officers worked collaboratively to respond to incidents where an armed assailant committed acts of violence in two separate, realistic scenarios.  

 “One of the hardest things to duplicate is the stress that the responding officers and firefighters are going to encounter,” said Sacramento Metro Fire Department Captain Shawn Daly. “Having the loud music, the fire alarms, the screaming victims, the fake blood and gore that they’re going to see helps prepare them for what they would experience when they reach a scene like this.”  

Exercises such as these are paramount to increasing safety within a community. This is a “train-the-trainer” program, where participants are department-designated instructors expected to learn the course and then conduct the training back home. This format ensures that more firefighters and law enforcement officers in more communities will be exposed to this level of training.  

 “This type of incident can happen in anybody’s jurisdiction, in any city, in any town, it doesn’t have to be large,” said CAL Fire Battalion Chief Russ Fowler. “When a tragedy like this strikes, you have two options: you can either send your people to respond without a plan and hope for the best, or you can take action right now and start preparing them.”