Full-Scale Drill Prepares JJC Employees for Emergency Scenarios

More than 75 JJC employees participated in a full-scale emergency drill last month as part of the college’s ongoing emergency preparedness training.  

The drill consisted of several scenarios that involved hazardous materials, an active shooter, a bomb and other public safety issues. College employees who are members of the Emergency Response Resource Group (ERRG) were called to the Campus Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) where they received information as the scenarios “unfolded”, and had to quickly make decisions about how to best respond to each situation. Simultaneously, campus police, sector leaders, JJC’s hazardous materials team and members of the counseling department also practiced responding to the scenarios as if they were happening.

“This was a full-scale drill which meant that the ERRG Team was put in the position of actually responding to the 120 or so injects that were communicated to them via phone, radio and in-person, all in real time,” said Chief of Police Pete Comanda. “It forced them to work cooperatively with the other members of the team to react to the incoming incidents as well as to plan for the recovery of the college after the incident was over.”

The drill was planned by Comanda; Environmental, Health and Safety Manager Ed Vasil; and consultants that were hired through a three-year, $523,000 Emergency Health and Safety grant the college received for emergency response training and resources.

The grant has been used for ERRG training, equipping and training of the JJC haz-mat team, sector leader training, funding of active shooter drills, table top drills, and finally this full-scale drill, which took Vasil and Comanda six months to plan.

From a participant’s perspective, the experience was realistic and highly valuable.

 “I felt that not knowing everything is the only way to experience a touch of realism in a drill,” said Charlotte Garrabrant, EMS professor and coordinator. “It forces us to think critically and be decisive, both of which are of the utmost of importance in a real situation.   We are ahead of the game thanks to the hundreds of hours that Chief Comanda and Ed Vasil have dedicated to preparing the plan and the full cooperation and enthusiasm of the ERRG group in executing it.”  

Vasil said he felt that the drill went well, and that all employees involved proved their ability to respond to situations and work together as a team.

“The drill was in fact extremely successful and all goals were met or exceeded,” he said.  “The level to which the ERRG Group members stepped up to react to the problems presented, anticipate upcoming issues and plan out a response was extremely rewarding especially since for many, this was their first real experience.”

Comanda said that while all colleges are now required by the Campus Safety Enhancement Act to conduct one drill a year, it is not common for higher education institutions to conduct drills of this magnitude.

“We are proud that we have been able to be a leader in this field among our fellow community and private colleges,” he said. “We had guests and observers from area colleges who came to watch the drill to help them prepare for upcoming drills that they have been planning.”

About NewsRoom