Riverhead’s police and emergency services will put themselves through the paces Saturday in a school shooting drill, RiverheadLOCAL has learned.

The location and time of the mock mass casualty incident is being kept under wraps, with only certain high level school, police and emergency service officials aware of the details.

“The goal is for this to be a walk-through drill, to test responses and systems,” said Riverhead EMT Joey Oliver, who spearheaded the effort. “It will be a learning environment for providers,” he said. “Next year, Flanders will host one and it will be an actual, full-out ‘this is happening’ drill,” Oliver said.

“Training like this is important preparation, in case, God forbid, the unthinkable ever happens,” Oliver said.

In addition to Riverhead Police, Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Flanders-Northampton Ambulance, Riverhead and Jamesport firefighters will also be participating, Oliver said.

Firefighters will generally provide fire police assistance, unless there are secondary devices to create explosions, Riverhead Fire Department First Assistant Chief Kevin Brooks said.

“We’ll secure the perimeter of the scene,” said Second Assistant Chief Peter Jackman, who’s been the Riverhead Fire Department’s point person on the drill.

“Police have told us firefighters are not allowed inside the building until it has been secured. So we’ll have five or six fire police vehicles, each with three-person crews, deployed to block access to the site. Jamesport will have some EMTs and fire police there also,” Jackman said.

“This is the first time we’ve done something on this scale in Riverhead,” Jackman said. There was a mass casualty drill held here about 15 years ago, with a school bus- tractor-trailer accident, he said.

About 70 students from Riverhead High School NJROTC and other clubs are participating in Saturday’s drill, Oliver said.

Police and EMS will set up a “casualty collection point” near the school where the drill takes place.

“We’ll be driving into the hot zone, grabbing patients and throwing them in the back of the rig for triage,” Oliver said.

“Patients” will be taken to Riverhead High School, which will stand in for Peconic Bay Medical Center. The hospital was set to participate in the drill, but training and preparations following the diagnosis of a NYC man with Ebola changed that, Oliver said.

Jamesport Fire Department headquarters will stand in for Stony Brook University Hospital with ambulances transporting “patients” to Jamesport and then returning to the scene.

No lights or sirens will be used, Oliver said.

“We’re trying to make it as realistic as possible without putting anyone at risk,” Oliver said.

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said the drill is a “very important” part of emergency preparedness.

“We have to be ready for anything,” Hegermiller said. “Drilling is a major piece of being prepared to handle these types of incidents,” he said. “We appreciate the efforts of Joseph Oliver in making this happen.”

Even though there are 70-plus volunteers participating, Oliver said, he’s still looking to add volunteers to act as victims, parents and other others. Anyone interested in participating should call him at 631-506-8461.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.

Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.