The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (WRHSAC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), hosted an informational symposium on active shooter incidents in March at the Deerfield Academy. More than 600 people from throughout western Massachusetts representing multiple disciplines including, law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, hospitals, schools, colleges and businesses, attended the event.
Participants heard lessons learned from incident commanders involved with previous active shooter incidents. Presenters included:
Connecticut State Police Lt. David DelVecchia and Captain Joe Rios, of the Newtown Connecticut Police Department who together discussed the response, investigation logistics, and post-incident management of the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
Chief David Billings, Manchester Connecticut Fire Department reviewed the first responder response to the 2010 Hartford Beer Distributor incident offering specific considerations for Fire and EMS at active shooter incidents.
Special FBI Agent Thomas Veivia examined demonstrated shooter behavior patterns and possible warning signs of potential shooters.
Nationally certified Comfort Dogs and their handlers from HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response also attended. The dogs visited with attendees and offered assistance to those who may have been emotionally affected by the day’s discussions.
The symposium was well received by attendees, with many noting how much they garnered from the lessons learned, and their appreciation for the care and respect of incident survivors and victims demonstrated by the presenters.
WRHSAC is reviewing attendee feedback with an eye towards next steps regarding this topic and anticipates conducting more events and trainings to assist the region’s preparedness capabilities to prevent and respond to active shooter incidents.