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Active Shooter! An Inside Look at State Police Training Drills at Hartford Hospital

April 07, 2021

In a darkened stairway, a dog’s whimper and yowl are a troublesome cry indicating almost certain pain.

At a landing on the building’s top floor, the scene revealed itself: A K-9 police dog was suffering a significant trauma as the responding crew got to work to stabilize the dog, working quickly to save its life.

This disturbing scenario was just one drill Connecticut State Police staged recently on the Hartford Hospital campus. The dog was Axel, a simulator canine designed for drills just like this. He was manufactured to replicate many of the wounds that first responders may encounter in real life.

In a partnership with Hartford HealthCare’s Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation (CESI), law enforcement officers spent the day in and around the building, training and playing out a variety of situations to prepare them for a real-life active shooter event.

Here are some photos from the drills, which included a mannequin and Axel the simulator canine:

Chad Gomez, the Operations Sergeant of CSP Emergency Services Unit, emphasized that the opportunity to work with the CESI paramedic program provided invaluable insights and training tools.

“Securing the scene, detaining an active shooter while keeping the general public safe and providing medical intervention are critical,” he said. “Wound-packing skills are vital for injuries to ourselves, our troopers and the public. Our troopers are cross-trained in emergency services for situations like this.”

During the drill, the police teams relied heavily on the expertise of the CESI team. The instructors bring a unique skill set and point of view  for law enforcement during training for an active shooter event.

“These events are sadly a part of our everyday lives sometimes, so it’s really important to be prepared medically and tactically. Our goal was to provide them the most medical training possible,” said Tessa Harrington, CESI educator and paramedic. “We worked on wound packing, tourniquet techniques, different life-saving techniques that are imperative to know. Early intervention is key in a massive trauma situation and the biggest goal is to control bleeding.”

As a member of the Emergency Management team, Manager of Laboratory Services Jennifer Costanza had the chance to observe the drill.

“The mannequin is bleeding out and their instructor is having them pack the wounds, moving the individual out to where the medics are, and explaining to the medics what they did so the medic can take over care for that patient,” she said. “It was amazing to watch.”

The Connecticut State Police come to CESI each year to reinforce protocols and life-saving techniques, honing the skills troopers need to keep them and the public safe. With the help of the team at CESI, simulation drills like this one are providing realistic scenarios that will prepare them if the worst-case scenario unfolds in real life.