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Larimer County Mass Casualty Training at The Ranch Prepares Agencies for the Worst

September 12, 2018

Emergency personnel try to help pretend victims as Law enforcement officers cover them from a mock active shooter during a mass casualty training Tuesday at The Ranch in Loveland.

If you heard gunshots coming from the Budweiser Events Center at The Ranch Tuesday, don’t worry — they were fake.

But that didn’t matter to local deputies, police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel who strapped on body armor that morning to train for a mass casualty incident.

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office invited the Reporter-Herald to observe a portion of the training, in which emergency personnel responded to a mock active shooter scenario.

During that scenario, a group of “protesters” — role-played by volunteers and staff — gathered outside one of the buildings at the events complex to yell: “Protest! Protest! Protest!” at the outside of the building.

From a location above them, a fake gunman opened fire, shooting blanks down at the protesters below. The protesters scattered, some evidently “hit” by the imaginary bullets.

Larimer County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jered Kramer explained that the protesters, who were wearing white T-shirts, were instructed to play out the health condition written on their shirts in permanent marker prior to the scenario. One volunteer with “deceased” written on his chest immediately collapsed after the shots, while others acted out leg wounds, chest wounds with severe bleeding and other gun-related injuries.

Emergency personnel responded to the shots, pointing their weapons at the shooter located above.

Kramer again explained that in scenarios, all weapons are armed with simulated, nonlethal rounds, or small capsules that explode with colored chalk on impact.

A while later, rescue task forces assessed the scene and began to perform triage on injured protesters and carry “deceased” victims away as well.

One woman, whose shirt said “panic attack,” acted distraught over a fatally wounded friend; emergency personnel had to cuff her and give medical aid while keeping her away from other operations.

The Sheriff’s Office also headed the training two weeks earlier at The Ranch, hosting the same agencies: Timnath Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado State University Police Department, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Windsor Severance Fire Rescue, Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, Berthoud Fire Protection District, Front Range Fire Rescue, Estes Valley Fire Protection District and Poudre Valley EMS, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“This is the biggest facility we’ve had (for trainings),” Kramer said, noting that mass casualty trainings have occurred in Larimer County for several years at schools and other buildings, but not in a complex as large as The Ranch.

“There are a lot of moving pieces to this training,” Kramer said.

Hans Peter: 970-635-3630, hpeter@prairiemountainmedia.com

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