Local emergency responders tested their readiness during a mock disaster Friday afternoon at DeKalb County High School.
Charlie Parker, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, told WJLE that the exercise involved a simulated school shooting, in which an intruder entered the high school building and wounded ten victims. While some teachers were still present, the drill was conducted after school hours when students had already gone home. Participating volunteers played the role of the shooter and victims.
"We simulated having an intruder in the high school with a weapon who was shooting victims," said Parker. "The shooter ended up being wounded and he was a victim too. The school went into a lock down mode. We did want some interaction with teachers so they were there to simulate the lock down procedures. But because of the sensitivity of it with other recent (actual) school shootings, we really didn't want students there. It's hard to notify all parents ahead of time and we didn't want any upset parents. We had the SRO officers, police department, and sheriff's department to come. We didn't run a full scale exercise where they would have gone in and took down a perpetrator. We may do that at another time. We did simulate the shooting and victims in the school and how the emergency responders would get to them, triage them and then transport them to the hospital for treatment," he continued.
Parker said DeKalb Community Hospital staff also participated in the exercise. "Part of this drill is for the hospital for part of their accreditation. They have to simulate disaster situations. An influx of several patients could put them into an emergency situation so we did this (drill) partly for them to practice their procedures in the event of an actual emergency," said Parker.
Overall, Parker said he thought the drill was helpful. "It seemed to go very well. We set out to practice several things. I think we learned several things along the way. Everybody learned a little something and learned a few things we can improve on. I think it was a great success," said Parker.
The exercise was organized by members of the Local Emergency Planning Committee. The purpose of the committee is to analyze, plan, prepare, and mitigate for disasters both natural and manmade that could potentially occur in DeKalb County.
The Local LEPC is comprised of the combined efforts of city and county elected officials, law enforcement, emergency management, fire departments, EMS, Rescue Squad, hospital, nursing home, utilities, business, industry, media, Red Cross, school system, churches, and civic organizations. This committee meets on a regular basis to work on plans, share information and conduct exercises to make a safer and stronger community.