Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Response to a Police Call: “Active Shooter”

By Quinton Chambers

Moments define an experience, and an experience can define a lifetime, but one can still ask what makes an event or experience memorable? Is it because of the adrenalin rush you get, the purpose of the event, who was around you at the time, or was somebody’s life on the line. No matter the reason, we can all think of at least one experience that has made us either reflect on life and appreciate all that we are given, or cause us to change something dramatically.

Such an event came unexpectedly for 18-year-police officer Chris Chambers on Thursday, July 24, 2014. While completing tedious paperwork in his office, Chambers received a call over his radio stating that a gunman had opened fire inside a psychiatric unit within Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Pa. Being an officer in the neighboring town of Havertown, Chambers was able to respond. With lights blaring and mental preparation in process, Chambers raced to the scene.

The situation occurred after a social worker took her psychiatric patient to an appointment with his psychiatrist. Then, for whatever reason, the patient decided to shoot his social worker in the head, killing her, then proceeded to hold his psychiatrist at gunpoint.

Chambers arrived in time to team up with three other officers to form the secondary response team; their mission, to clear all rooms that were on lockdown and evacuate any civilians in those rooms.

“When I entered the building it felt like I was on autopilot," Chambers recalled. "All of my senses were in HD, my vision, my hearing, the clarity was amazing. We train for active shooter response on a regular basis…I can say my training definitely kicked in.”

Approximately 18 rooms and 40 relieved civilians later, working in tandem with other officers, the building was clear. After the Incident was over, Chambers found out that the patient’s psychiatrist ended up stopping the patient from killing more people by shooting him with a firearm he was legally carrying. The psychiatrist definitely helped law enforcement that day because the rogue patient had 100 rounds of ammunition on him, most likely with intentions to kill many.

When asking Chambers what he took away from this situation, he kept referring to his training, which makes sense, because in his field of work training could make the difference between life or death. “The training I have gone through definitely has prepared me and my fellow officers for this type of response,” he said.

Ultimately, experience is everything and practice makes perfect, so every moment we encounter change helps to shape us and bring us back to reality, showing us that life can be unpredictable and to hold on for the ride.

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