Active Shooter Drill Completed at the Bedford VA on May 1


By Julie McCay Turner

Bedford firefighters and EMTs posed with their colleagues from Billerica, Concord, and Lexington after the drill ended. – Click to view larger image

A few days before observing International Firefighters Day on May 4, the Bedford Fire Department joined their colleagues from Bedford, Burlington, Concord, and Lexington to conduct an active shooter drill in collaboration with police departments from the same towns. The drill was held at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital on Springs Road in Bedford on Tuesday, May 1.

Several Bedford police officers stood together after the drill

Fire Captain Mark Sullivan and Police Sergeant Pat Towle worked tirelessly with Bedford VA officials to coordinate the event that was conducted during regular hospital hours.

According to Bedford Fire Chief David Grunes, the exercise provided the opportunity for the Fire Department command staff to train with the command staff from the Bedford and VA police departments. The drill offered firefighters and EMTs the chance to work together in a less stressful environment than an actual event would afford. “This [drill] builds familiarity and trust between all of the departments and creates a safer environment while working together during true emergencies,” added Chief Grunes.



Middlesex Community College theatre students played roles as ‘victims’ during the drill and will perform in the department’s spring musical “Spring Awakening” with remaining performances on Saturday and Sunday, May 5 and 6, at the Burgoyne Theatre in Lowell – Click to view larger image

The ‘victims’ were played by a team of theatre students from Middlesex Community College.

As the exercise began, the shooter emerged from an elevator and gave two of the actors “a look” before starting to fire at them. Another actor developed his own backstory about visiting the hospital for treatment of his PTSD; he was for a time presumed to have been a suspect, but in the end was gently supported by trauma teams outside the hospital.

Under the leadership of Karen Oster, chair of Middlesex Community College’s Theatre Arts program, the student actors said it was an honor for their department to have helped the first responders practice their skills.


Emergency vehicles from multiple towns gathered at the Whole Foods Market parking lot early on the morning of May 1. They were called to the VA in the order that they would be called in an actual emergency.

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