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Active shooter training drill plan complete

The final details for active shooter training were ironed out on Thursday.

Warren County School District will work with emergency responders from Warren and Chautauqua counties in active shooter drill scenarios at 1 and 6 p.m. Tuesday, August 20, at Eisenhower Middle High School.

Representatives from law enforcement — Pennsylvania State Police, Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, Lakewood-Busti Police, and U.S. Forest Service — discussed the equipment they would need and who would be bringing it.

Handguns and rifles that fire simulated ammunition will be used by responding officers. No live ammunition will be used in the school. In fact, officers will go through a strict security check-in before they are allowed to participate.

Some of the discussion Thursday focused on making sure the public is aware that the event is a drill — not a real incident.

Those involved don’t want alarmed people showing up at the door of the school.

“The more warning that you can give, the better,” Lakewood-Busti Police Chief John Bentley said.

District Quality Assurance Supervisor Boyd Freeborough suggested asking PennDOT and other agencies about using traffic message signs.

Signs will also be used at the scene and on the doors of the building.

Public notices will be issued prior to the event.

Although officials know it would happen, they would like to discourage alarmed people from showing up at the scene of a real incident.

Especially people carrying guns.

Officers responding to an active shooter incident will not know the intentions of the people they see. If they encounter someone who is armed, they are likely to consider that person the shooter, and could engage.

“If you show up at a school during an incident with a gun, you’re probably going to be the first casualty,” Buildings and Grounds Information Specialist Melissa McLean said.

In a real emergency, the school district will move students to another location and, using phone, social media, and other communications sources, let parents and guardians know where they can pick up their children.

This year’s drill event will include a reunification practice at 9 a.m.

The drills at 1 and 6 p.m. will involve law enforcement searching for and neutralizing all threats and emergency medical providers tending to the wounded.

Numerous volunteers are ready to play the roles of injured staff and students, McLean said. Some of those may be transported to local hospitals in order to create more realistic situations as practice for those facilities and for district officials in charge of tracking students.

The level of involvement by volunteer firefighters and medical responders is an unknown, but those running the drill hope for a high level in order to generate experience in case of a real incident. “We know they’re going to be there if an event really happens,” District Superintendent Amy Stewart said.

Representatives from Warren General Hospital and EmergyCare, joined Warren County Public Safety, district officials, and law enforcement on Thursday.

The building admninistrators involved in the drill will not be aware of the scenarios, Freeborough said.

They will be asked to think on their feet and act on their training.

“One of our objectives (is to prepare staff) to alert the people in the building and get somebody on the way,” Stewart said. “We want to emphasize that mindset that you guys aren’t on the way until somebody calls 911.”

Those running the drill are taking steps to prevent it from interfering with daily 911 operations.

Warren County Public Safety Director Ken McCorrison said new law enforcement and emergency medical radios will be used and will not interfere. “We are hopeful we will be able to run the entire drill out of our trailer,” he said.

In addition to participating in the drill, Pennsylvania State Police will serve as incident command for the drill and provide security at the site. Sgt. Ryan Nuhfer encouraged those who use Twitter to follow the @PSPTroopEPIO account for information and updates on the drill.

Stewart said school officials from regional districts are welcome to observe the drill. Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jon Desnerck said he would contact districts in Chautauqua County.

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