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Identity & Community

Emergency Responders To Train For Active Shooter Situation At Airport

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Pittsburgh International Airport
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Don’t be alarmed if you hear gunshots at the Pittsburgh International Airport Thursday evening.

It’s all part of a drill.

In 2013, a gunman killed a Transportation Security Administration Officer at Los Angeles International Airport. And while there has never been a shooting incident at Pittsburgh’s airport, emergency response officials are preparing for a worst-case scenario.

The alternate security checkpoint at Pittsburgh International will close at 7 p.m. so that law enforcement officials, emergency responders and civilian volunteers can take part in the drill. 

Christopher Kearns, Allegheny County Police Inspector, said communication is the primary focus of this training. 

“What we’re trying to do is have the police department, the airport fire department, airport operations, the emergency dispatchers and surrounding departments work together to improve our coordination and response to any possible active shooter incident at the airport,” said Kearns. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the definition of an active shooter is someone who actively engages in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. 

In the past, the police and fire departments have conducted training scenarios to pull injured victims to a safe zone. This will be the first time multiple emergency responders train together in response to a situation. 

“We’re going to have all of the entities respond, as they would in such an incident,” Kearns said. “And everyone will fill their roles and we’ll work together through the drill and see how the coordination works.”  

In case of an actual emergency, first responders not participating in the training will be available during that time. 

“Our No. 1 priority is safety for the traveling public, for our employees and for anyone who uses our facilities,” said Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis.  Normal airport operations and flights will not be affected by the training exercise.