On Wednesday, the Lakewood Police Department conducted an active shooter training that involved West Pierce Fire & Rescue, Washington State Patrol, Town of Steilacoom, Bonney Lake Police, Clover Park School District and other agencies.
This wasn't the first time the City's Police Department has conducted a multi-agency simulation of a gunman (or woman) who has fired shots inside of a school building, but Thursday's approach was a bit nuanced. As Assistant Police Chief Mike Zaro explained, the simulation implemented the "Warm Zone" tactic, which allows victims to get medical help quicker.
Traditionally in a shooting, law enforcement would have to make sure an entire building is secured before medics could enter and tend to victims. In an emergency where a suspect is on the loose, that approach could cost minutes, perhaps hours, before victims can get help.
That lag time could be the difference between life and death.
On Wednesday, however, law enforcement and medics weren't waiting for Mann Middle School to be completely cleared. Instead, law enforcement created a "Warm Zone," where they would secure a part of the building and bring in medics to tend victims. The medics are accompanied by police, and they worked quickly to treat victims and get them out of the building as quickly and as safely as possible.
Police and fire departments across Pierce County are utilizing the "Warm Zone" tactic, Zaro says. "A lot of agencies around the country are looking at Pierce County as a model," he said.