15 Seconds in July:  Lessons from the Greenwood Mall Shooting

Sunday, August 6, 2023 | 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Heath Brant, RPL, CMCP, Johnson County Public Safety Communications and Travis DeVore, RPL, CPE, IU Health LifeLine

This session detailed the events as they unfolded on July 17, 2022. During this event, six people were shot and three victims succumbed to their injuries. What made this incident different than other reported active threat incidents is that an untrained witness to the shooting who was legally armed, shot and killed the suspect before the first 9-1-1 call was placed. Even though the entire shooting incident only took 15 seconds, the resulting call volume quickly overwhelmed the on-duty staff of seven employees. An additional emergency communications center (ECC) in a neighboring county handled several of the rollover calls that were being received.

After this event, there were several takeaways. The number one was to get a seat at the public safety table if your agency isn’t already there.  It’s imperative for the ECC to assist in coordinating training, policy development and after-action analysis to grow from these catastrophic events. The second takeaway is don’t wait.  Don’t wait for your public safety partners to develop their plan of action and then develop your ECC’s.  Don’t wait for public safety partners to initiate an exercise. The third takeaway was to acknowledge that policy and procedure cannot account for every eventuality.  It’s imperative for the agency to develop critical thinking within the organization so that employees are empowered to make decisions without the fear of negative repercussions.  The final takeaway of the session was to not hold your employees back within policy by “shall” when “should” can suffice.  This can limit staff on creative problem solving when large scale incidents occur.

In the aftermath of the incident, keep in mind debriefings for employees in the short term, but also think about long-term care. ECCs should create their own after-action reports as well as the public safety partners and build from the areas that did not have the best outcomes. Take those deliverables and update policy and SOP as needed. In regards to training and were the employees adequately prepared, Heath’s response is “Yes and No” because some things worked well and others did not. Travis’ reply was “We were as prepared as we could be.”  Unfortunately these large scale events will continue to happen.  Training and preparation is a great way for ECCs to start on the path to readiness for these events.

Submitted by Jessica Kay