The Colorado River Service Unit hosted Arizona's first local level, multi-jurisdictional emergency preparedness drill in December. Nearly 20 federal, tribal, local and non-governmental agencies collectively worked to renew partnerships in reforming their community's emergency preparedness program. This collaboration changes the dialogue from reactionary to preemptive and helps to ensure the best medical treatment is provided in crisis situations. Overall, the multi-agency partnerships' continual planning and mitigation efforts build a more resilient community for the Hualapai, Havasupai, Chemehuevi, Fort Mojave and Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT).
The full-scale active shooter drill allowed the agencies to test their capabilities during a simulated scenario, helping them prepare for actual events. After the exercise, each agency participated in a debriefing to review processes, plans or equipment for functionality. These discussions generated an improvement plan instituting a proven, effective response to any emergency including natural disaster.
The threat of an active shooter exists regardless of demographical makeup, economical status or geographical location. Acts of violence occur with no systematic reason. This is why CRIT and the IHS chose to exercise this scenario. Planning, exercising and preparedness are the only strategic advantages communities have for any type of disaster. Evaluators for this exercise stated that this was the first exercise that incorporated both tribal and non-tribal agencies.
We express gratitude to everyone who engaged in this exercise including: CRIT Police Department, CRIT Fire Department, CRIT Fish and Game, CRIT Homeland Security, Town of Parker Police Department, La Paz County Emergency Management, La Paz County Sheriff's Department, River Medical, Native Air, Buckskin Fire Department, La Paz County Health Department, La Paz Regional Hospital and the IHS Colorado River Service Unit.
This first ever, multi-agency large scale drill serves as an example of a best practice that portrays partnership, agency and community preparedness, inclusion and the strengthening of relationships between the IHS, Tribal and local partners.
Ms. Elizabeth (Betsy) Helsel is the CEO of the Colorado River Service Unit, leading an IHS hospital and several clinics. She came to the IHS in 2015 after nearly 40 years in the health care business, including 29 years in key leadership positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs.