Planning underway for Ike shooter drill

Times Observer file photo This photo from last summer’s drill at Beaty-Warren Middle School shows one of the volunteers who posed as a victim. It was the district's first that incorporated both law enforcement response to the intruder and the emergency medical response to the people injured in the incident.

No one wants to have to prepare for a mass casualty event, much less an active shooter situation.

But, Warren County School District, law enforcement, EMS providers, and others are going to continue to get together in the name of preparedness.

At a planning meeting this week, district officials, City of Warren Police Chief Brandon Deppen, Warren County Deputy Public Safety Director Scott Rose, Warren County Fire Services President Rich Barrett, and representatives from Scandia, Lander, and Glade volunteer fire departments and EmergyCare, gathered to discuss the active shooter drill coming to Eisenhower High School this summer.

One firefighter compared the drills to the county’s mock crashes held each spring before school proms. The response from the community and the capabilities of those who respond will grow each time the event is held.

“We view every one of these as a huge opportunity to learn,” District Superintendent Amy Stewart said.

“We had failures (at the previous drill) and those are things we are trying to learn from,” Deppen said.

The students practice intruder situations much more frequently than the responder community can.

In those, students are learning to “think on their feet,” Deppen said. “No one can tell you exactly what to do in this situation.”

Practice will prepare the students should they ever need it, in school or later in life.

The fire drill process is so effective that no student has died in a school fire in nearly 60 years, Deppen said. “It’s an unfortunate thing that we have to teach them.”

The drill last summer at Beaty-Warren Middle School was the district’s first that incorporated both law enforcement response to the intruder and the emergency medical response to the people injured in the incident.

That will continue at Eisenhower.

Officials expect the situations at Eisenhower to complicate matters.

Out-of-sight staging areas at Beaty are much closer than those at Eisenhower. Approaches to the school are more limited, too.

Response times will be longer and those who arrive first will be from diverse groups.

One of the concerns brought up at the meeting was ‘help’ from parents in a shooter situation.

“Parents circumventing… that’s going to be your biggest problem,” a firefighter said.

“Information is going to help,” Deppen said.

People who would show up at a school, particularly those who are armed, should be told, “you coming to this are is going to get somebody hurt or killed,” a firefighter said. “You’re preventing rescuers from getting in.”

A person who is armed, in the building, and not easily identifiable as law enforcement stands a good chance of being considered the threat. That means they could be killed by law enforcement, or at best, waste an officer’s time that could be spent finding the real threat.

Deppen suggested that students be encouraged to let their parents know that students will be reunited with their families off-site.

“They’re in the way of fire, EMS, police, all they are is a target” for the shooter, he said. “Tell your parents to stay away. You are not going to be there.”

“Some of our kids are going to run” if faced with an intruder situation, Stewart said. “We empower them to do that.”

“We’re going to scoop them up in buses and get them to reunification,” she said.

The district will hold several more meetings before the drill and hope to attach some meetings to Warren County’s forthcoming Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) training.

There will be three of those classes — all starting at 6 p.m. — on Monday, May 20, at Garland Volunteer Fire Department; on Wednesday, May 29, at Russell Volunteer Fire Department; and at a date to be determined at Clarendon Volunteer Fire Department.

“We ask you to get the word out,” District Supervisor of Quality Assurance Boyd Freeborough said. “We’d like to get as many people here as possible. We want you to be trained.”