Preparing for tragedy: Emergency response drill focused on mass shootings at churches

Sam Ribakoff
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — San Juan County Office of Emergency Management’s annual emergency response drill helped first responders prepare for incidents like a shooting resulting in multiple casualties at a church.

"Given that there have been so many shootings at houses of faith, it seemed like a good idea to plan a drill around this kind of event," said Ryan Briggs, the safety manager for the City of Farmington. 

Approximately 175 people were involved in the mass shooting drill on Sept. 25 at Piñon Hills Community Church, located at the intersection of Piñon Hills Boulevard and North Dustin Avenue.

Farmington fire and police departments, San Juan County SWAT, San Juan Regional Medical Center, San Juan County Fire and the Aztec Police Department all participated in the drill, as well as volunteers from Piñon Hills Community Church, and nursing and EMT students from San Juan College who acted as victims of a mass shooting during the drill.

A Farmington police officer participates in an active shooter drill at Piñon Hills Community Church.

Signs along the roadway informed people that the incident was a drill.

"There's always something to be learned doing these drills," said Mike Mestas, the Emergency Manager for San Juan County, "Overall it went well. We're just practicing and training so that in the real world, we'll be ready."

An actor playing the suspect of an active shooter drill is apprehended by Farmington police officers.
A volunteer from Piñon Hills Community Church treats an actor playing a victim of an active shooter.
Actors playing victims of an active shooter are taken out of Piñon Hills Community Church.