Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Koebryn Mlynarik enters the Kenai Peninsula Borough building during an active shooter simulation as part of this year's Alaska Shield exercise on Thursday, March 31, 2016 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Public employees test out Alaska Shield training

Moments after the go-ahead came across a hand-held radio, a young man in black crept up the stairs to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building with a bright blue fake gun clutched in his hand.

The active shooter scenario carried out in Soldotna on Thursday was part of this year’s Alaska Shield exercise. From a simulated cold snap in 2012 to an earthquake scenario in 2014, each Shield exercise is different.

Agencies from the Alaska Army National Guard and the Alaska State Troopers to the Soldotna Police Department and Community Emergency Response Team volunteers are involved in this year’s drills. Each agency has a role to fill throughout the two-day exercise. On Thursday, the Soldotna Police Department, Alaska State Troopers and Central Emergency Services responded to an active shooter simulation at the borough building. In the scenario, one shooter, played by Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik’s son, Koebryn, entered the building followed by officers from Soldotna Police and the troopers.

As soon as the threat had been eliminated and the building cleared, Central Emergency Services entered and transported three volunteers playing injured victims out on stretchers.

During an active shooter event, police protocol is to take the most direct path to the shooter based on a given location or other information, such as the sound of gunshots, Mlynarik said.

“So we’ll bypass everything else, unless it’s a threat or something,” he said. “But if there’s any victims laying down or anything like that, we’re going to get to the shooter. The reason for that is to preclude anybody else from getting killed.”

This year’s scenario was designed so that the simulated shooter would exchange gunfire with the responding officers, Mlynarik said, as is likely to happen during real life incidents. He said officers completed the drill well and that the shooter in the scenario was killed. One of the biggest things Alaska Shield organizers looked forward to this year was testing the borough departments’ Continuity of Operations Plans, or COOP.

“COOP is a plan that each department has,” said Public Information Officer Brenda Ahlberg, explaining that it allows employees to continue department functions even outside their normal offices or environment in the event of an emergency, like Thursday’s simulated active shooter.

“And the finance department, they’re actually going to physically relocate a portion of finance to Skyview (Middle School) and they’re going to try to recreate the ability to do … general functions,” she said.

While the plans have been in place, they have not been tested before by an Alaska Shield scenario, said Office of Emergency Management Director Scott Walden.

“This has given us an opportunity to put those plans into practice,” he said.

Now, administration will be able to see what works and what needs work, and will be able to make them stronger from here on out. After the active shooter drill on Thursday, Walden said the majority of the cyber security and other exercises had gone well. He said a few areas to change in the Continuity of Operations Plans were identified, as well as some areas of employee training that could be built upon.

For the most part, though, Walden said cross communication between agencies like the Nikiski Fire Department, the Kenai Peninsula School District, law enforcement and the borough went smoothly.

Borough and school district employees were trained according to A.L.I.C.E., a protocol followed and taught by the school district that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. Pegge Erkeneff, spokesperson for the school district, said the district is in its second year of using the protocol as a way to teach staff and students more options of how to react in an emergency besides locking down in a classroom. The program is adapted to be age appropriate for young students, so when it is taught to adults, like borough staff, no one has a problem learning the concepts, she said.

“It’s really helpful to have that broaden,” Erkeneff said of bringing the training to the borough.

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

 

 

 

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion An Alaska State Trooper and a Soldotna Police officer round a fence in preparation to pursue a simulated active shooter during an Alaska Shield exercise on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Members of Central Emergancy Services carry a volunteer playing an injured victim out of a building on a stretcher as part of an Alaska Shield exercise on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion Koebryn Mlynarik enters the Kenai Peninsula Borough building during an active shooter simulation as part of this year’s Alaska Shield exercise on Thursday, March 31, 2016 in Soldotna, Alaska.

More in News

Signs protesting the annexation petition proposed by the City of Soldotna are seen along the Kenai Spur Highway, in Soldotna, on Tuesday, Oct. 21. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Annexation decision could go to voters

Boundary commission opens 7-day comment period on whether or not to send annexation to ballot box

COVID-19. (Image via CDC)
State reports more than 200 new cases, again

DHSS announced 215 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday.

Emergency worker Melanie Chavez takes a COVID-19 test sample at the Juneau International Airport screening site on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. The City and Borough of Juneau raised its health alert level Tuesday as the number of cases grows locally and statewide. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Increase in COVID cases could overwhelm hospitals, experts warn

Mask now so businesses stay open later, they say.

This graphic shows the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District risk levels associated with different numbers of new COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough School District)
With COVID cases rising, district focusing on flexibility

Central, eastern and southern peninsula schools are now all at high-risk levels.

Alyse Galvin (courtesy photo)
Election 2020: A conversation with Alyse Galvin

Galvin is challening Rep. Don Young for Alaska’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

COVID-19.
11 new cases on the peninsula, borough’s positivity rate passes 7%

DHSS announced 200 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Monday.

A screenshot from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s COVID-19 dashboard shows current case trends and threat levels as of Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (Screenshot courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough School District)
Southern peninsula schools go to remote learning after increase in COVID-19 cases

Increase in COVID-19 cases pushes Southern Kenai Peninsula into high-risk category

The sign outside Soldotna City Hall is seen here on July 16, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s disaster declaration extended to Dec. 31

The resolution originally extended the declaration by 90 days.

A biker leads a line of cars driving off the Homer Spit at about 1:30 p.m. Monday, in Homer after a tsunami evacuation order was issued for low-lying areas in Homer. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer New)
Large quake prompts tsunami warning

A tsunami warning was issued at about 12:55 p.m. for low-lying areas in Homer and Kachemak Bay.

Most Read