Active Shooter Simulation on Holy Family University Campus

An active shooter simulation drill replicating a “hospital situation” was held on the campus of Holy Family University on March 28, in partnership with Homeland Security, the FBI, Philadelphia Police Department SWAT, Crime Scene Forensic Processing, and the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services. The simulation was designed to provide an authentic, real-world experience for more than 80 senior year nursing students at Holy Family University and to deliver a critical training exercise for law enforcement and first responders.

The nursing students played various roles in the simulation. Participating students did not know of the active shooter situation in advance – they only knew they were taking part in a mass casualty/crises simulation that day as part of their academic curriculum.

The effort was spearheaded by Dr. Thomas J. Loveless, CRNP, PhD, Director of the Graduate Nursing Program at Holy Family University’s School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, with support from the Public Safety Department at Holy Family University, led by Joseph McBride, Director. Special help with coordination was provided by Robert Swider, Philadelphia Police Department Joint Terrorism Task Force, and Richard Bossert, Battalion Chief of the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services.

The drill, designed to foster management of a mass casualty, gave a realistic simulation experience in real-time. This provided senior nursing students with an authentic experience outside of the hospital, and the fire, police and rescue squads a preparedness drill and an inside look at the campus.

Prior to the March 28 simulation, Special Agent Joe Metzinger, FBI and Sergeant Bob Swider, Philadelphia Police Department Joint Terrorism Task Force, led a special presentation to prepare University staff and faculty for the simulation. They provided a historical view of active shooters, the characteristics and actions taken by previous shooters, and how local and federal law enforcement may be able to help prevent an active shooter on campus. Also covered was the run, hide, fight approach that is now taught should there be an active shooter on campus, as well as what to expect in the aftermath of an incident. Among the presenters were those who have processed the scenes at the Boston Marathon bombing and Washington Navy Yard shooting.

The active shooter simulation was the second such drill held by Holy Family University this school year. In the fall of 2013, the University held a similar exercise on its Newtown campus, simulating a mass casualty surrounding an unidentified chemical spill. Partners included Holy Family University’s School of Nursing and Allied Health Professionals, the Lower Makefield Police Department, the Yardley-Makefield Fire Company, the Langhorne-Middleton Fire Company, and the Newtown Emergency Services Department.