School shooting simulation wins national award
Every step is taken to make sure that the active shooter drill seems as real as possible, which includes having murdered or injured students.
St. Charles Parish Public Schools was given the 2014 National School Safety Award for its active shooter drill. The drill is held every other year in partnership with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and several other local and state agencies.
Active shooter mimics an assault on a school and serves as a training exercise for school staff, law enforcement, fire departments, hospital workers and other assisting agencies.
St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said the agencies involved in the drill already have procedures in place should a school shooting or other emergency event occur, but going through a realistic drill is the best way to train for such a tragic scenario.
“This is just a chance to put it together into a scenario that is realistic with smoke and sirens, a fire alarm – it is chaos and a chance to get them trained to think and act on procedures in the confusion,” he said. “That is what training is all about, to be in a real-life situation and be able, without thinking about it, to act.”
Altogether more than 700 people participated in the most recent drill, which was held in February. That drill began with a fight between two students in the R.K. Smith cafeteria that escalated into gunfire and an explosion, which was simulated by an actual flash grenade.
“Injured” students were actually taken to the hospital by ambulance, while helicopters and tank-like vehicles patrolled the area to locate the shooters.
“The fact that we are able to plan and participate in a training of this magnitude demonstrates how the partnerships we have in St. Charles Parish contribute to the safety and security of our parish, schools and community,” Felecia Gomez-Walker, superintendent of St. Charles Parish Public Schools, said. “It is an honor to receive this award that recognizes the efforts of those involved in conducting the training exercise which is a model for school systems across the country.”
Given by the School Safety Advocacy Council, the National School Safety Award recognizes individuals, agencies and districts that go above and beyond in the efforts to keep students and schools safe.
More than 65 nominations were submitted for the award.
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