By Lt. Megan Cherinka, AA/PIO
California Medical Facility

California Medical Facility (CMF) took part in a ground-breaking Critical Incident Training (CIT) on June 6.

This innovative exercise allowed custody staff, medical staff, mental health staff, and various classifications to work as a team.

CMF Warden Robert W. Fox was very pleased at being the first institution in the state to host such a wide-scale training event.

“I can only hope what we accomplish today will become a model statewide,” he said.  “After participating throughout the different scenarios today, I can honestly say this was one of the most organized and detailed trainings I have had in my career.”

Training focused on realistic emergency situations and real-time feedback for all staff.  Exercises included response tactics, crime scene preservation, use of force options, and emergency medical procedures.

Over 450 staff members were split into groups, combining staff from each department to ensure participants had a balanced understanding of critical incident responses.

Scenario-based stations were set up in various locations across the institution, including inmate housing units, segregated units, inmate exercise yards, and even the Warden’s Conference Room as the Incident Command Post (ICP).

CMF’s Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joseph Bick was pleased with the results.

“Realistic, practical, well-organized, and hands-on,” he said. “I especially appreciated the emphasis on clinical – custody collaboration. I recommend that this program can be repeated annually at all facilities throughout the state.”

Staff members assigned to the ICP were given training by the Office of Correctional Safety on the intricacies of handling a major incident, including a power outage, flooding, and staff or inmate injuries.

Each scenario provided participants with the opportunity to practice quick responses and proper procedures for incidents that CMF faces daily.  Scenarios included approaching a non-responsive inmate in the cell and aiding a staff member under attack.

The Multiple Interactive Learning Objective system was also available to assist staff in dealing with inmates facing potential mental health crises.

Chief Deputy Warden Daniel E. Cueva was impressed with the training.

“The amount of work and detail that went into the execution made it one of the best trainings I have received during my career,” he said. “The CIT Drill spanned the entire day, including both second and third watches.

Generous donations from the California Correctional Supervisors Organization, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, Service Employees International Union, California Association of Psychiatric Technicians and the Volunteers of Vacaville allowed CMF to provide a BBQ lunch in between training sessions.

Feedback provided by drill participants has spoken to the great success of this event, reminding all staff that regular practice of proper procedures makes a huge impact on the institution’s safety and success.