The blood wasn’t real. The bullets were blanks. The angry shooter was actually a CHP officer and the terror was simulated. But the response was as real as possible Tuesday morning when local agencies participated in a mock mass shooting exercise at College of the Siskiyous in Weed.

The blood wasn’t real. The bullets were blanks. The angry shooter was actually a CHP officer and the terror was simulated. But the response was as real as possible Tuesday morning when local agencies participated in a mock mass shooting exercise at College of the Siskiyous in Weed.

If there is one thing that the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary, the Navy Yard, Columbine, and Virginia Tech have taught us, it’s that shooting rampages can happen “at any time and any place,” said Bryan Williams, who helped coordinate the exercise for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

More than 180 police officers, sheriffs deputies, firefighters and emergency first responders participated in the training, said Ron Quigley, Siskiyou County’s Deputy Director of Emergency Services, so they can be better prepared in the event of a mass shooting. Victims were portrayed by drama students from Dunsmuir and Yreka high schools.

As more than 100 spectators, including superintendents and principals from across the county, watched from behind yellow caution tape, a scene of terror and violence played out between the college’s Student Center and the Learning Center.

Screams could be heard from inside McCloud Hall, followed by the sound of gunshots. Students appearing to be bloody ran screaming from the building. They were pursued by an angry gun-wielding man wearing jeans and a blue hooded sweatshirt.

As sirens sounded and a California Highway Patrol helicopter circled overhead, a “disgruntled former student,” who was actually CHP officer Jesse Rogers, fired blanks at the students and proceeded into the Student Center.

More shots rang out and flash grenades exploded as more students ran from the building. The “shooter” chased them, but was “shot down” by three officers.

As more than 40 students portrayed the injured and dead on the lawn and inside two buildings, emergency personnel went through the motions of triaging patients and transporting them to waiting ambulances and the CHP helicopter, which landed in the parking lot.

Medics went through the motions of deciding who needed attention first as officers cleared buildings to ensure there was no other shooter.

Some “victims” were transported to Mercy Medical Center’s emergency room in Mount Shasta so the hospital could test its “surge plan,” said Quigley.

“The exercise was a success,” said Quigley as the last victims were placed on stretchers and carried from the scene. “Our responders did a great job. From here, we will do a debriefing to find out how we feel it went, what was good and what we should improve.”

Those who responded to the mock emergency were not notified of how the scenario would play out, said CAL FIRE’s Suzi Brady, who acted as the event’s public information officer. “All they knew is that it would be an active shooter, but they had no details.”

Participants included CHP, CAL FIRE, Siskiyou County Public Health, Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department, Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services, police departments from Weed and Mount Shasta and south Siskiyou County fire departments and fire protection districts, she said.

Local agencies were able to evaluate their current response concepts, plans and capabilities for an emergency situation. Focus was put on emergency response, critical decisions, evacuation, notifications and a particular emphasis was put on the first five minutes of the emergency.

The takeaway from the exercise for those observing, said Bryan, is that we all can play a role in preventing these kinds of tragedies on campuses, in shopping malls or in the workplace.

“If you see something, say something,” he said.