Local News

School drill readies Wake first responders for unthinkable

Posted August 22, 2014

— It's a scenario many would rather not think about, but it's one Wake County law enforcement and emergency responders say is always on their minds and something they need to be ready for.

About 160 sheriff's deputies, police officers, EMS crews and school employees participated in an active-shooter drill Friday morning at Ligon GT Magnet Middle School in Raleigh.

Sheriff Donnie Harrison, whose office coordinated the exercise says, with school starting back, it gives them a feel for how they would respond in the midst of a chaotic situation.

"We never know when something is going to happen. We want to be prepared," Harrison said. "We want to make sure we're working with everybody. We're a team."

The staged 30-minute emergency dealt with two fictional shooters and school employees acting as victims.

"They had several scenarios they could play out, and they sort of watched what the officers were doing, and they challenged them a little bit more at different times," Harrison said.

Emergency responders' job was to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible – always with the safety of children and faculty in mind.

In the end, one shooter was taken down in the school's media center, and the other in the auditorium.

At that time, EMS was cleared to enter the building and help the pretend victims.

But Harrison cautions that school safety doesn't stop with law enforcement.

"We've got to educate the people we're teaching," he said. "We've got to educate the students."

As for determining how successful the drill was, Harrison says each agency involved will evaluate how it responded to identify areas for improvement.

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