Violent-intruder drill held in Greensburg
A violent-intruder drill Monday in Greensburg was the result of about five years of preparation by the Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety and Westmoreland Casemanagement and Supports, Inc.
Public safety officials used the drill as a way to gauge the response to a situation at the agency’s offices at the Davis Center, while employees learned how to react in such an instance.
“The self-reaction to the violent intruder is what they intend to exercise, so that their employees can feel confident that if they’re faced with that catastrophic event” they have the training on how to respond, said Chris Tantlinger, department planning chief.
Members of the Greensburg fire department blocked off parking lots around the center on a rainy Monday morning waiting for the intruder to arrive. Employees evacuated into a rear parking area or on the front sidewalk once the practice situation started.
Three Greensburg police cars raced up East Pittsburgh Street to the shopping center and parked in front. A few minutes went by, and employees were allowed back inside.
“I think it’s important for any employer in this day and age to do everything they can to protect their employees,” said Lynnette Emerick, chief executive officer of Westmoreland Casemanagement and Supports, Inc.
The nonprofit organization employs about 290 caseworkers who interact with clients with intellectual, developmental or behavioral health challenges. Caseworkers assess clients and connect them with a variety of community services.
Emerick praised the partnership with the county and city, as well as Mutual Aid, for their help conducting the drill. Employees have completed active shooter civilian response training, and the drill was an extension of that work. It was held as a general response to active shooter situations becoming more common in America, she said.
Plus, the training helps employees in their personal lives, not only at work, she said.
Over the past few years, county officials have worked with the agency to update policies and identify potential vulnerabilities, Tantlinger said.
“There’s been a lot of work to build up to today,” said Roland “Bud” Mertz, director of the county department. “The only way you learn is if you discover mistakes.”
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .