Heard shots fired and screaming at U of C? It was just a massive drill

If you were at the University of Calgary campus on Monday afternoon and heard shots fired, screams for help and first responders yelling — there's a good chance it was just a training exercise.

'As we’ve seen recently around the world, large-scale incidents can occur anywhere at any time'

The University of Calgary staged a mock mass casualty incident Monday. Pictured above, some of the more than 100 emergency responders involved in the exercise work on a mock victim. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

If you were at the University of Calgary campus on Monday afternoon and heard shots fired, screams for help and first responders yelling — there's a good chance it was just a training exercise.

The school staged a mock mass casualty incident on the campus between noon and 1:30 p.m. with help about 100 to 150 emergency responders from the Calgary police, fire department and emergency medical crews.

"This exercise is an important opportunity for the University of Calgary to partner with Calgary's first responder agencies to ensure we are aligned and assess our readiness and response to emergency situations," Bob Maber, director of emergency management for the University of Calgary, said in a release on Monday. 

The exercise was based on a table-top version of the scenario that was held at the school last November.

"As we've seen recently around the world, large-scale incidents can occur anywhere at any time," said police Deputy Chief Ray Robitaille.

"These kinds of exercises allow us to test how we would work together in complex, mass-casualty incidents to identify any potential gaps and to strengthen our response."

3 essential actions

The exercise took place in the Olympic Oval and parts of Kinesiology B, and parts of those buildings were shut down temporarily.

U of C holds mock mass casualty incident

6 years ago
Duration 0:48
Up to 150 first responders were at the University of Calgary today to prepare in the event of an active shooter situation on campus.

If there were an actual assailant on campus, the university says people should be ready to take one of three essential courses of action.

"Get out if you can escape safely; hide if you don't know where the shooting is coming from or if is too late to escape; and as a last resort, fight," the university advised on its website.

Police say the goal is to respond to a situation as soon as possible, but under the window of seven minutes. If an incident did happen, police would work in co-operation with the RCMP.

Officials say it's imperative to practice how a large-scale event would unfold to know what to do, especially with so many different organizations involved.

The fire department says its focus is to make sure it knows where everyone is for tracking purposes, and to co-ordinate with police and paramedics. It has also ordered protective gear for its staff.

EMS spokesperson Stuart Brideaux says the training exercise was helpful for paramedics to see how to set up "warm" and "cold" zones, or areas where they are in danger and areas where they can freely treat patients.

What to do in case of a real emergency

The university have posted a video called Shooter on Campus: Know You Can Survive on the U of C's Emergency Management website. 

It's a dramatization produced by Alberta's post-secondary schools, in consultation with police officers, instructing students and staff on what to do if there is an active shooter on campus. 

In case of a real emergency, the university urges people to call 911.

If someone on campus is concerned about someone's behaviour, the university asks people to call Campus Security at 403-220-5333.

The university gives alerts and updates through its UC Emergency app, its UCalgary Twitter account, its Emergency Management website, email and a mass notification system in some buildings.

"We can't not be prepared these days," said Maber.

"We certainly hope it never happens."