By Mark Mettes, CVE
The Herberger Theater Center in partnership with the Phoenix Police and Fire Departments hosted public safety training throughout the three-theater venue in late August. The Homeland Defense Bureau and Training Bureau provided crisis response training for the Herberger Theater and in the latter part of the day, Police and Fire first responders participated in drills and scenarios in the facility. Each of these opportunities provided both short-term and long-term benefits to everyone involved.
The crisis response training consisted of Run, Hide, Fight and Stop the Bleed, the latter of which included hands on demonstrations of how to apply a tunicate after an accident or injury. n addition to the entire Herberger Theater staff, we also invited each of our six Resident Companies to participate in the training, validating our mutual commitment to the safety of all persons who come the Herberger Theater.
While these specific training opportunities focused on our crisis response, the rest of the day consisted of drills and scenarios for first responders. Over 100 members of the Police and Fire Departments participated in live active shooter training exercises that helped test their own procedures and responses in a location very different from an office building or mall. Everyone benefited as they went through the pre-planned scenarios and in the process learned much more about our three-theater facility as well as our operations.
During these exercises, some of our staff voluntarily participated as “actors” to play the part of various people that the first responders may encounter. For our staff, this brought to life many of the concepts that were discussed in the Run, Hide, Fight training. Throughout this part of the day, some of our leadership team were able to shadow the lead from the Phoenix Police Tactical Training Detail as he was following the scenarios. This helped us to better assess our own procedures and responses.
The lessons learned throughout the day will provide lasting benefits for not only the staff of the Herberger Theater Center and the primary users of our theaters but also for the Phoenix Police and Fire Departments as they better understand the complexities in responding to a large scale incident in a performing arts facility. Everything from internal and interdepartmental communications to tactical movements in a theater were tested, discussed and improved upon.
For everyone involved, this was a rehearsal in a theater for a performance that we never, ever want to take place. Nonetheless, this proactive rehearsal allowed everyone to be better prepared at the Herberger Theater Center or wherever they may be called onto or into a scene.
Mark Mettes, CVE, is president and CEO of the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, Arizona