By Jackie Taylor
Linn County News – August 27, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – September 1, 2014
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School safety isn’t just something that you hope happens–it’s something that comes about with lots of planning, strategizing and investing in the future. And, two years after the wheels were put in motion to practice a countywide active shooter scenario, many people left with lots to think about and more planning to do.
School shootings are nothing new in America; they just seem to continue and to escalate as they occur. Linn County Emergency personnel and school personnel took the bull by the horns and began working together to come up with a plan where all three school districts had the same emergency procedures the county was familiar with: all three would use the same emergency code words and each would use the same basic lifesaving techniques if facing a situation.
Monday, August 25, was the day to put those procedures to the test and find out where the holes were. County Emergency Management Coordinator Doug Barlet, USD 346 Superintendent Royce Powelson, UD 344 Superintendent Travis Laver, USD 362 Superintendent Chris Kleidosty, and Sheriff Paul Filla and Undersheriff Roger Holt started the planning process several years ago, but began actual meetings and tabletop exercises two years ago. In that time, the school districts found a date where they all could arrange an in-service on the same day to practice developing active shooter scenarios inside one of their schools.
Prairie View High School was the chosen site of the exercise, using approximately 300 teachers from all three districts to pose as students. Linn County Fire, law enforcement, various city police departments, American Medical Response EMTs and supervisors, observers from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and various emergency management personnel from other counties attended.
Emergency personnel were staged in a parking lot at the high school and “students” were assigned to classrooms, the library or other areas students would normally populate during a school day.
The scenario began with the school day being like any other day. But at approximately 8:55 a.m., Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Mark Drennan posed as a disgruntled parent that was going through a divorce and losing custody of his son. Drennan entered the school, armed with a .22 caliber with real blanks so teachers would know what real gun shots actually sounded like, and moved to the front office.
Volunteers moving through the school earlier noticed plastic CPR practice dummies scattered throughout the upper level of the high school; the reason was now apparent as Drennan simulated firing on people–the dummies being the dead after he moved through.
Those personnel simulating gunshot victims lay on the floor in various rooms, each with a written description of what kind of injury he or she had received.
Drennan moved through the hallways yelling, “Where’s my son!” and continued shooting until he stopped in the cafeteria to reload and La Cygne Police Chief Tate West apprehended him, cuffing him and stopping the simulated carnage.
Various procedures during the active shooter scenario were initiated by the teachers showing them what they actually would do if faced with a real shooter.
Though the incident began at 8:55 a.m., all of the shooting was complete by about 9:05. At that point, law enforcement moved on the scene, simulating the actual response time it would take to get to Prairie View from La Cygne, ending with the apprehension of the shooter.
Next, calculated by Deputy Chris Martin, various other law enforcement officers, ambulances and the fire department began showing up in the school.
Several questioned, “Where were the first responders?”
Former deputy, now PHS ag teacher Darick Chapman, answered, “It’s a 10-15 minute response time–trust me.”
At approximately 9:38 a.m., rooms began to be cleared by police and deputies, with students finally being sent to a central location where they could meet parents or loved ones.
Most of the scenario went smoothly and holes in the plan showed up. Observers, including school superintendents, the Johnson County Sheriff’s officers, AMR personnel and more, each took notes for later planning.
Comments were shared about changes each would make for various reasons, but ultimately that they were glad they could practice the active shooter scenario in case something really did happen.
After the shooter was apprehended, Diana Oborny, teacher and EMT for 30 years, used her years of training. She began assembling automated external defibrillators (AEDs), first aid kits, etc., and began moving through the building. AMR had not moved through all of the injured and Oborny, with the assistance of health aids, began administering life-saving first aid to the gunshot victims. She made several observations on needs the district could assist with if they were ever faced with a situation.
After all of the students were moved to a safe spot and victims were treated, the exercise ended and everyone was asked to assemble in the auditorium. Barlet and all of the organizers of the exercise were on stage and introduced.
Following a question and answer period, Superintendent Kleidosty took the microphone and told the audience that it is far better to stop an active shooter situation before it starts. Talk to those kids who seem to be outcasts, stop that bullying that is going on in the hallway–be active in students’ lives.
He asked teachers to be aware of what is going on around them–helping to potentially thwart a future shooting incident.
With that, lunch was served, thoughts were shared and everyone was thankful it wasn’t a real incident.
Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster