May 11—The man standing at the side of a lonely desert road frantically waved his arms, getting the attention of a paramedic truck rushing by. Just off the curb, another man cried out in pain.
"I just got dragged by a car! It hurts!" the man shouted.
Paramedics rushing to treat the injured man kept their cool, even as he cursed and blood seeped from an ugly-looking wound on his left leg. They calmly asked for the man's name and information on what happened to him as they stemmed the flow of blood with a tourniquet.
At their side, Victor Valley College public safety instructors quietly observed and took notes—the only sign that this scenario was staged as part of a training drill that lets students get a real-life look at their future careers.
"This is a great opportunity to show our future VVC students what we do here at the Regional Public Safety Training Center," VVC Administration of Justice Director Rand Padgett said.
Faculty and staff of three public safety programs offered at the college join forces twice a year to hold the training drills at the state-of-the-art facility, which boasts interactive classrooms, a shooting range, a "fire tower" for simulated fires and various vehicles used for crash scenarios.
The day included an active shooter scenario, car fires, and a "riot scenario" that included students from local high schools playing a role.
"In our crowd control scenario, students posed as protestors and were engaged by criminal justice students dressed and equipped as riot police," Padgett said.
The drills were acutely vivid -- the riot scenario included students chanting and throwing items at police, while car crash scenarios featured victims with realistic-looking bodysuits that oozed "blood" while the victims convincingly writhed in pain.
"It's intense, that's for sure," nursing student Misti Bustos said. "We had a riot, a shooting, there was a car on fire....our little fake hospital was rocked earlier."
Officials from several local public safety agencies, such as American Medical Response, San Bernardino County Fire Department, Apple Valley Fire Protection District, California Highway Patrol and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, also participated in the event.
Thursday's drill also had instructors from neighboring law enforcement agencies such as the Ontario and Riverside Police Departments. As one instructor put it, communication between the different agencies is often key to efficiently mitigating any public safety incident, big or small.
"It's about exposing, mentoring and coaching," VVC spokesman Robert Sewell said.
VVC has held these drills twice a year since 2013. The next drill is scheduled to take place in the 2018 spring semester.
Visit vvc.edu for further information on the Regional Public Safety Training Center and details on their public safety programs.