DOBSON — Surry Community College’s Police Department hosted is first multi agency mass incident drill Friday. Chief Marty Shropshire was pleased with the level of cooperation he saw between agencies.
“The drill went as planned. The collaboration between departments has been wonderful. No issues came up,” said Shropshire. “That was expected because we all have worked and trained together for years.”
The drill took place on the Dobson campus in the T building and the H building only. Shropshire said there was not a full campus wide lock down during this particular exercise but all entrances and exits to the college had barricades blocking access except for the main entrance on South Street.
“It (the drill) came in as a larceny in progress call,” explained Shropshire. He said the campus police responded to this and had several choices of action. They chose to pursue the vehicle, which wound up behind H building. Officers confirmed that the vehicle was a mobile methamphetamine (meth) lab, which raised hazardous materials concerns.
He added that two suspects fled the vehicle, which they left behind T building. At this point, the Dobson Police Department and the Surry County emergency medical services HazMat Team responded to this situation and secured T building where one suspect had been left behind. Members of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office and Mount Airy Police Department SWAT Teams next responded when the two fleeing suspects entered H building and it was determined this was an armed shooter situation.
Shropshire said the SWAT teams split up to cover both buildings with treatment of victims following. He said emergency medical technician students and other volunteers played victims and suspects during the drill. Additional personnel were on hand as safety officers and evaluators to ensure safety and training objectives were met.
“These officers are sworn to provide a safe environment for our students,” said College Public Information Officer Marion Venable. “Because of the very nature of our mission our campus is different than a municipality or city. We have such a fluid population it makes ensuring safety a more complicated process. That’s why this drill is so important. Public schools have a stable population and age range at a set time and we are more diverse and we are not static.”
She said it quickly became obvious to her this was not only a drill benefiting the college but the county because she said she could see the participants learning and honing their skills which will be used elsewhere.
Shropshire said observers and their notes on every part of the scenario were later used in a debriefing of all the participants and the information would go back with them for future improvements. Departments participating included the Mount Airy Rescue Squad, Dobson Rescue Squad, Surry County Communications, Surry Community College Police Department, Dobson Police Department, Mount Airy Police Department Crisis Management Team, Surry County Sheriff’s Office Special Enforcement Team, the Surry County Emergency Medical Services HazMat Team and Surry Community College EMT program students.
“This training was critical in the preparedness of safety for this institution,” said Shropshire. “I want to recognize everyone for being so patient and supportive of our efforts to ensure the safety of everyone at SCC in the future.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.