Preparedness

Full Scale Exercise

Emergency responders practice active shooter training at CHS

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Crawfordsville High School become a different type of learning environment Wednesday as local emergency response departments participated in a full scale active shooter exercise.

The exercise involved about 100 participants and was conducted solely for practice and planning.

The scenario for the exercise was that during school hours in mid-May, an active shooter enters door #1 and starts shooting high school students and faculty. The School Resource Officer takes out the threat and relays that message via radio to dispatchers. The Central Communications Center dispatches Crawfordsville Police, Crawfordsville Fire/EMS, Emergency Management and Homeland Security and puts SWAT on standby. They also request StatFlight be on standby. Within seven minutes all responding units are on the scene.

“With the world that we live in today I think that’s probably the biggest reason we do this,” said Shari Harrington, director of the Montgomery County Emergency Management and Homeland Security. “We love our community. We want to protect our community. Our schools are so invested in this type of training, we’re always talking about it.”

Representatives from all three school corporations were on hand for the exercise.

“They (school officials) know we need to practice this and that we need to be proactive and not reactive and that’s why we did what we did today. Hopefully, we will never have to use it,” Harrington said.

Over the next hour and half, participants responded to the scenario and recovered the wounded and casualties all while being evaluated by Blu4 Strategies, an Indiana company that provides training and services in the area of active shooter response and more. The company is headed up by Mike Kersey, a former local law enforcement member.

“At the end of the day this is for the stakeholders, this whole process is to evaluate the exercise,” Kersey told the group prior to the start of the exercise. “We also want to evaluate where we are as a community and where we lack resources.”

The goal, he added, was is to find the loopholes now.

“The biggest thing today is knowing that it’s OK to fail,” Kersey said. “We want things to fail and we expect things to fail because we can’t grow and get better or get anything done that needs to be done unless we fail now. So, this is the point where we want to be aware, so we can fix it and not have the failure that we are seeing across the country.”

Evaluators, as well as many spectators, watched the scenario unfold in the high school commons area and parts of the first and second floors. The activity then moved outside where the wounded were treated for their injuries.

“We will gather all the evaluation guides from our evaluators and we will go through all of that and see what objectives were met, I think all were met ... I think we did a pretty good job,” Harrington said.

She and the others will know more in two or three weeks, when the evaluations are tabulated.

“We did interject a few surprises,” she said. “We had a parent show up on the scene and there was an officer injury near the end that no one was expecting.”

Harrington said Wednesday’s exercise was the third and final piece for their training module. Earlier stakeholders participated in a group discussion followed by a tabletop exercise.

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