As the investigation goes on into Monday's Washington Navy Yard mass shooting, Central New York first responders are re-reviewing their playbooks for a similar incident.
"Nobody can be totaly prepared for these," Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh told us, "but I think we are as prepared as any community can be, to deal with this kind of emergency."
"Even in the smaller situations tht we deal with here on a regular basis," says Walsh. "After every SWAT incident we do a debriefing. How did we handle it? Could we handle it better? Were notifications properly made? Were the right people on scene?"
Besides review, there's ongoing training, including mock drills are retraining on active shooter protocols. And it's not just the law enforcers. "We train with EMTs that are specialists in handling SWAT situations," says Walsh, 'so if we need them in an emergency we have them with us."
Other first responders agree that knowing who's working in an emergency is important, which is why there are year-round readiness meetings and mock emergency drills that simulate major incidents. "It's rare that it's the first time we've ever seen each other at an actual incident, because we have thise connections," says Rich Hajeries, the Red Cross Region Disaster Direct Service Support Manager.
Hajeris points out that the efforts are coordinated (911 often puts out the call) and each group is responsible for a specific piece of the effort. In Washington, the Red Cross delivered 90 units of blood to local hospitals on Monday, as standbys for casualties of the shooter.And, besides physical help, there's an emphasis on mental health, as well. "When there's fatalities, or there are situations when there's stress on folks, there's an immediate need for mental health," Hajeris says.
Counselors are on hand in Washington, as they were this spring in Herkimer. "Mental health was there immediately," the Red Cross says, "because family members, friends, people, needed somewhere to go, someone to talk with the first few hours of the event."
"We haqve the equipment, we have the personnel, we have the training," says Sheriff Walsh, "and we hope we have the good luck and good fortune to not have to put it into play."
(We also reached out to Lockheed Martin for this story: the defense contractor, with a major facility in Liverpool, has an office right across from the Washington Navy Yard and is a supplier to the Naval Sea Systems Command based there. The company tells us no employees were victims in the shooting.)