WCSD coordinates across state lines for next active-shooter drill at Eisenhower MHS
When Warren County School District held an active shooter drill event last summer at Beaty-Warren Middle School, there was a lot of work to do.
The plan for 2019 is to hold a similar drill, including both the law enforcement response to the threat and the EMS response to the mass casualty situation, at the Eisenhower school campus.
The tentative date for that event is Tuesday, Aug. 20.
On Thursday, district officials hosted a meeting with law enforcement officers from many agencies.
At Beaty, City of Warren full-time police and fire departments — less than two minutes away from the school — would be the first on the scene and presumably assume much of the leadership role. Warren County Sheriff’s Office is just as close. There would be no shortage of personnel on the scene immediately.
Still, planning for that practice was very involved and numerous agencies participated.
The experience of that incident is under the district’s belt, but at other schools the responder situation will become much more complicated.
The latest protocol for law enforcement response is that all regional officers go to the scene and immediately go in to neutralize the threat.
Officers — on- or off-duty — could be anywhere when an emergency call goes out.
Eisenhower, in Farmington Township, is under Pennsylvania State Police jurisdiction. The barracks in Starbrick is almost 20 minutes away — much less time with lights and sirens. Youngsville Borough Police is about that far away. City of Warren Police and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office are a little closer. Conewango Township Police station is just as far.
The region doesn’t stop at the state line and officers in New York would hear and respond.
On-duty officers from Lakewood-Busti Police would be at most 20 minutes away according to the speed limit. Like Pennsylvania State Police and Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office could have patrols anywhere in that county — potentially five minutes away.
So, it was important for the district to involve local and state entities in New York in planning for a drill at Eisenhower.
At Thursday’s meeting, representatives from the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and Lakewood-Busti Police Department joined district officials, Pennsylvania State Police, City of Warren Police, Conewango Township Police, Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Warren County Department of Public Safety, and Emergycare in the discussion.
The group shared ideas about how to make the drill more realistic and a better learning tool.
There are several more meetings for the coming months. Some will focus on the EMS and fire response. Others will bring law enforcement back to the table to consider details. One will focus on nailing down some of the communications particulars.
District officials are hopeful that entities from all over the counties will participate. The Cherry Grove Volunteer Fire Department, as an example, is about as far from Eisenhower as possible in the county. But, that group is invited. The drill is not about being ready for a problem at Eisenhower. Practice at Eisenhower will make any participating group more ready for an incident anywhere.
Superintendent Amy Stewart said the Eisenhower drill is likely to include district practice for reunification — getting students who evacuated — to designated areas or to homes or somewhere else — or been trapped or barricaded inside throughout an incident, to safe locations away from the incident and, eventually, back home. “We need an opportunity to practice that,” she said.
The district also plans to work internally with staff who would like to learn more to be able to help in a mass casualty situation. Again, not because anyone thinks such a thing will happen anywhere in particular, but because it could happen and being ready is better than not being ready.