Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Sheriff's Corner

By Wahkiakum County Sheriff Mark Howie

As I witnessed and partook in the activities that unfolded last Friday during our live exercise at the school I was struck with immense pride in the professional, collaborative, skilled teamwork displayed by all of our first responders under the most extreme pressure.

Over 160 people participated in one of our county’s biggest mass casualty incident (MCI) training exercises to date. By now many people have heard about the active assailant MCI that has been eight months in the making. What you may not realize is the tremendous amount of time, dedication, and sacrifice made for this event to succeed.

Wahkiakum Sheriff’s Office Department of Emergency Management Coordinator (EMS) Beau Renfro, Deputy Mark Hake, and Reserve Deputy Darren Droullard began coordinated efforts after last year’s culmination of events. First the sheriff's office hosted an active shooter table top exercise with Wahkiakum Schools, Cathlamet Fire and District 4, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Health and Human Services and other disciplines. Then Deputies Hake and Droullard became certified instructors to train our local officers in single officer response to an active shooter incident.

Wahkiakum County Sheriff's Office hosted this intense week long training at Grays River Valley Community Center. The final goal was to conduct a live training exercise that would involve all county first responders.

What resulted August 26 was a successful training exercise where I saw people from various fields come together under the most stressful, unpredictable, and chaotic conditions and provide a professional level of service to our community. From moulage artists Sunni and Annika, who created life-like injuries on the victims to our dozens of community volunteers, Volunteers in Police Services, Search and Rescue, 911 dispatchers, all fire districts, Cathlamet Fire and EMS, Wahkiakum County School District, reserves deputies, state Deptartment of Corrections, Health and Human Services, Life Flight Network, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Washington State Patrol, Cowlitz Sheriff’s Office, Wahkiakum and Cowlitz HAM Radio Operators – all disciplines became one whole and made it succeed. This would not be financially possible without the support of the Wahkiakum County EMS and Trauma Council from funds raised by a local levy. And of course hats off to our deputies who ran to the noise and the danger knowing in a real life situation they are potentially sacrificing their lives and with the sole purpose in mind to take down those who would harm us.

In the weeks ahead the sheriff's office and other first responders will assess our actions in debriefs and after action reports. We will see what worked and what didn’t. We will discuss where we can improve or change protocols that would work better. And we will continue to train to the best of our abilities to provide the highest level of public safety services to our county.

We are very lucky to have the caliber of people we do, and I couldn’t be more proud of our first responders and our volunteers.


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