Archived Story

Schools hold mock disaster drill

Published 6:03am Saturday, September 29, 2012

Law enforcement officers and emergency personnel descended on the Russellville City Schools campus Tuesday morning, but it wasn’t actually as serious of a situation as it appeared.
The Russellville School System, along with the Russellville Police Department, the Franklin County Special Response Team (SRT), the Russellville Fire Department, and both Transcare and Pleasant Bay ambulance services, participated in a mock disaster drill in an attempt to strengthen the procedures put in place in the event of an emergency situation at one of the schools.
“It seems like you hear about school shootings and emergency situations at schools more and more these days,” RCS Superintendent Rex Mayfield said. “We pray that nothing like that ever happens here, but you can never be too prepared in the event that it does.”
Mayfield said the drill took place on the Russellville Middle School campus.
Each agency involved was given the scenario that an active shooter was present at the school and had made his way onto the roof.
Mayfield said the entire RCS campus was placed on lockdown while the other agencies did their jobs.
“If this had been a real situation, every school would have remained on lockdown until the shooter was taken into custody, no matter which school the shooter was located at,” Mayfield said.
“For the purpose of the drill, the other three schools were allowed to resume their normal activities once they had gone into a successful lockdown and secured their campus, but the middle school remained on lockdown throughout the drill.”
The police department and other city services, such as the street department, were called in to secure the area and prevent anyone from entering the parameter set up for security purposes.
Members of the SRT then went onto the RMS campus and scaled the gym, where the mock shooter was located.
Following the facts of the scenario, the shooter was “shot” once in the chest but was still alive, so members of the Russellville Fire Department had to scale the building and successfully lower the shooter to the ground.
EMTS with the fire department and the two ambulance services then set up triage stations and assessed the “victims.”
“I think this was a very successful drill and I believe each agency was able to take something away from it to improve on,” Russellville Police Chief Christ Hargett said.
“Drills like this are vital because you want to make sure that any mistakes that might be made are made in a mock situation and not one where people’s lives are on the line.
“You take what you did, learn from any mistakes and make improvements for the future.”
Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said this drill was a good way to implement training techniques and make sure each agency is on the same page.
“We can train and train for different scenarios, but if you can’t put that training into action, it hasn’t served its purpose,” Mansell said.
“For the fire department, we had to make sure the shooter was gotten down off the roof of the gym and assist in the triage of victims. These are all things we have practiced on our own and Tuesday we were able to implement that training and see how effective we were able to execute our tasks.”
He said communication was also key for his department.
“Communication is one of the most important elements in any disaster situation, especially one where multiple agencies are involved, so this gave us a chance to see where we could improve on our communication skills.”
Mayfield agreed that communication between the school officials and emergency officials is important to the success of managing a disaster situation.
“The agencies had an operations post where the communications were organized and that seemed to be a big help,” he said.
He added that when the drill was completed, each agency sat down and discussed the drill and what improvements needed to be made.
“This was a good time for us to see where we might have weaknesses and what we could have done better,” Mayfield said. “No one is ever critical of another agency – we just provide constructive criticism so we can fix any mistakes.
“I think the drill was successful and accomplished what it was meant for – to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep our students, faculty, staff and other community members safe.”

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