Visionbox Crisis Actors are trained in criminal and victim behavior, and bring intense realism to simulated mass casualty incidents in public places.
The actors' stage acting experience, ranging from Shakespeare to contemporary American theater, enables them to "stay in character" throughout an exercise, and improvise scenes of extreme stress while strictly following official exercise scenarios.
The actors regularly rehearse scenarios involving the Incident Command System and crisis communications, and appear in interactive training films produced in both 2D and stereoscopic 3D.
Producers Jennifer McCray Rincon and John Simmons formed the group to demonstrate emerging security technologies, help first responders visualize life-saving procedures, and assist trainers in delivering superior hands-on crisis response training.
For example, with a large shopping center, the producers review all security camera views and design dramatic scenes specifically for existing camera angles, robotic camera sweeps, and manually-controlled camera moves.
The producers then work with the trainers to create a "prompt book" for the actors so that key scenario developments can be triggered throughout the mall shooting simulation, and caught on tape.
The actors can play the part of the shooters, mall employees, shoppers in the mall, shoppers who continue to arrive at the mall, media reporters and others rushing to the mall, and persons in motor vehicles around the mall.
Visionbox Crisis Actors can also play the role of citizens calling 911 or mall management, or posting comments on social media websites.
During the exercise, the producers use two-way radio to co-direct the Crisis Actors team from the mall dispatch center and at actors' locations.
Within this framework, the exercise can test the mall's monitoring and communications systems, the mall's safety plan including lockdown and evacuation procedures, the ability of first responders and the mall to coordinate an effective response, and their joint ability to respond to the media and information posted on the Internet.
Security camera footage is edited for after-action reports and future training.
Visionbox is a project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center. Crisis Actors is a project of the Colorado Safety Task Force established by Colorado State Senator Steve King.