CRANFORD — At approximately 10:10 a.m. on May 21, a faux 9-1-1 call was received at Cranford Police Headquarters reporting an active shooter situation at Cranford Health, a local extended care and skilled nursing facility. Information from the caller was relayed by Communications Officer Kathleen Ditzel to police units in the field. In less than 90 seconds, a contact team comprised of four Cranford police officers armed with rifles and handguns arrived on the scene and entered the building. Moments later, the shooter was neutralized and an injured victim was rescued by the responding officers.
The entire incident was a planned drill designed to test the operations, policies and procedures of the two organizations, and to enhance the level of cooperation and communication between facility staff and police in an emergency. Detective Robert Montague coordinated the drill for the Cranford Police Department, along with Robert Gasper, Maintenance Director for Cranford Health. Observers from both organizations were on hand to evaluate and critique the incident and response.
In the simulated scenario, a lone gunman entered the facility, injuring one person and killing another. The facility implemented its existing lockdown plan and notified police immediately. Responding police units were able to utilize training recently received as part of their regular active shooter training curriculum. Montague is trained by the National Tactical Officers Association as a certified active shooter instructor.
“The key to responding appropriately in a real life emergency is frequent training,” he said. “The more opportunities we have to train with realistic scenarios, the better prepared we are when we need to respond to an actual event.”
According to Jean Morris, the facility administrator, the entire scenario was a great learning experience for her and her staff.
“The two agencies working in conjunction led to a successful drill, she said. “The staff performed their roles exactly as they were trained, and the expertise and professionalism of the Cranford Police was readily apparent.”
Morris stated that the company holds regular drills with staff in order to prepare for as many potential emergencies as possible.
Cranford Police Chief Eric Mason said that the Cranford Police Department regularly trains for active shooter and barricaded subject emergencies.