Think it Can’t Happen to You? MESH Coalition Grand Rounds Speaker: Shane Booker

Background  

 MESH Coalition recently hosted a Grand Rounds event in partnership with IU Health. The featured speaker, Shane Booker, discussed the Noblesville West Middle School shooting and the Carmel High School explosion. Today, Mr. Booker serves as the Executive Director of Emergency Management for Hamilton County. He provided various professionals with background and insight on the opportunities and obstacles Hamilton County faced in both the Noblesville West Middle School shooting and the Carmel High School explosion events.

Hamilton County’s current population is approximately 350,000 people. The county has six public school systems, as well as, several private schools. Additionally, there are eight law enforcement agencies, ten fire departments, a county health department, a healthcare coalition, and several hospitals. The county’s emergency management consists of four full-time employees, two part-time employees, and volunteer community emergency response teams. 

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Pre-Incident Noblesville West Middle School:

Prior to the Noblesville West Middle School shooting there had been several preparedness trainings including the April active assailant training, safe school meetings, emergency operations center training, and Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate (ALICE) training for school students. A number of the people involved in these trainings were school administrators and representatives of multiple agencies throughout the county, in addition to emergency personnel. Furthermore, resources such as the Stop the Bleed/Trauma Kits were purchased.

Incident Summary Noblesville West Middle School:

On May 25, 2018, at 9:06 a.m., emergency services were dispatched to shots fired at Noblesville West Middle School. Officials had the name of the suspect within 60 seconds and he was in custody within 3 minutes of the initial call to dispatch. A teacher and student were wounded during the event. Officials activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). American Red Cross and Salvation Army provided support through resources including water, ice, and tents. Additionally, there were over 140 law enforcement officers on the scene.

Opportunities for growth included the following:  Students were advised to use the golf course pro-shop as a rallying point in the case of an emergency, but the golf course management was unaware of this plan. Students were also given a script to follow in the event of an active shooter situation, but 911 operators were not provided with that information, either; operators were left confused by student call-ins stating the situation at hand and hanging up.

In the days following the event, investigations continued, an internal review was conducted, and an increase in awareness was promoted. A critical incident response checklist was created, along with a dedicated liaison appointed to every school. Increased communication was emphasized after the incident due to miscommunication with a nearby golf course and 911 operators. 

During this event, social media posed an issue for authorities and families as false information was being dispersed. Mr. Booker discussed how intentions were good but self-deployment became an issue as too many people and resources can disrupt operations. Since the event, checklist and standard operation plans were implemented as part of the planning process. Coordination was further implemented through building and maintaining relationships to better facilitate communications and networks in the event of an emergency. 

Pre-Incident Carmel High School:

Prior to the Carmel High School explosion there had been continued preparedness trainings as result of the Noblesville West Middle School shooting, safe school meetings, emergency operations center training, and school evacuation drills. School administrators and representatives of multiple agencies throughout the county, in addition to emergency personnel, continued to collaborate.

 Incident Summary Carmel High School:

On December 26, 2018, at Carmel High School, a pool heater exploded in the rafters while activities were being held in the school’s gymnasium. Multiple calls to 911 were made; however, the initial reports indicated more damage than previously thought. Two individuals were injured, and one suffered from severe burns. Students in the facility followed evacuation procedures and assisted those who were unfamiliar with the evacuation plan and routes.

 During this event, social media continued to pose an issue for authorities and families as false information was being dispersed. For example, reports that the explosion was a terrorist attack were being falsely shared. Mr. Booker emphasized planning, preparation, and coordination as three takeaways. As a result of the Noblesville West Middle School shooting, the critical incident response checklist and standard operation plans were implemented as part of the Carmel High School explosion. After both of these events, Mr. Booker highlighted how fundamentals, realism, and repetition are key factors in preparation.

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 Additional Notes and Information:

·       Throughout the day of the shooting incident, there were nearly 1,000 calls to 911 emergency services. In the 9 o’clock hour, there were 203 calls to 911 emergency services, which is equivalent to six hours worth of calls.

·       Outside of the on-scene incident, there were 3 suicides and 18 traffic incidents on the day of the shooting. Lapel Police Department back-filled Noblesville’s Police Department daily runs.

·       A number of hospital staff, as well as, staff of local businesses who had children at the school, left work that day in response to the shooting incident leaving hospitals understaffed and businesses to close.

·       The Hamilton County call center has 14 call lines available, in a surge event, such as the Noblesville West Middle School shooting, the 15th caller and those following were redirected to Madison county call center.