Laurier tests emergency response

On Wednesday morning, Laurier president Max Blouw and vice president: finance Jim Butler had an odd interruption to their meeting.

At 8.20 a.m., as part of a planned critical-incident exercise, a man armed with a gun and explosives burst into Butler’s office after ‘shooting’ two executive assistants and held the two men hostage. A Waterloo Regional Police tactical team led by staff sergeant Dave Obermeyer was then called in to 202 Regina Street to deal with the situation.

The team arrived in full gear, along with the bomb squad, and began negotiating with the ‘suspect,’ who was supposed to be a disgruntled former employee taking rather drastic measures to get his job back. The negotiators were able to get Butler to safety in exchange for giving the hostage-taker his job back, Blouw, however, was not so lucky.

“My role was a very easy one,” said Blouw at a news conference shortly after the exercise. “I was the victim, I expired.”

After the exercise was over, Rod Curran, director of Laurier’s special constable services stressed the importance of preparation for this kind of scenario on a university campus.

“You’ve got [situations like] Dawson College and Virginia Tech,” he said. “It’s always very important to test an emergency plan.”

Shortly after the exercise, Laurier hosted a press conference at which Blouw, Curran, Obermeyer and Gary Askin, superintendent of strategic and tactical services for Waterloo Regional Police stressed the importance of doing such an exercise.

The group debriefed later in the day and will do so again next week to assess the exercises success.

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