UPDATE: School Emergency Drill in Hartselle
HARTSELLE, Ala. (WHNT) - After the Connecticut school tragedy, how far should schools go to prepare for the worst? Hartselle school leaders are considering a drill during school hours that would involve someone coming into an elementary school with a fake weapon of some kind.
There may be something to learn with staging an emergency in a school when young children are present. They already practice fire drills, but what about a drill that involves an armed intruder in one of the schools?
“What we’re hoping to do is start the process of planning a drill in the school system where we could go in and find out how we would really react in a situation like that,” says Eddie Hicks, Director of the Morgan County Emergency Management Agency. He added, “Up to this point, we’ve had drills without the students being there, and so this time we’re hoping to introduce the students as a component in there because the response people are going to have to deal with that if they get into a real situation.”
Hartselle’s police chief confirms officers do practice in the schools during the summer, but this would be different.
“Any time you have a drill in a school like that, you’re mainly testing the resourses of the school,” according to Police Chief Ron Puckett. He adds, ‘We’re part of the community and we would hopefully get a good response and learn this is where we’re weak, this is where we’re strong, this is where we need to improve.”
Hartselle’s school superintendent tells us that’s the whole point of the drill, if it takes place. Right now, it’s only being discussed, and in the wake of the Conneticut tragedy, every school administrator wants to make certain they are doing all they can to keep their students safe.
“When you’re doing it with live students, the personnel that’s going in have to look through what each class is doing and account for it and see if there’s anybody faking that everything’s alright. There’s a lot of little things that you can do if you introduce a group of students to that,” Hicks tells WHNT News 19.
Hartselle school officials say they’ll meet with the people who would be involved in such a drill before deciding whether to go forward with the idea. Parents who would not want their children involved in the drill would have the option of picking their children up before the event. The students and parents would all be made aware well in advance when the drill was going to take place.
“To say or believe that it wouldn’t happen in Hartselle, Alabama, I think we would train and pray it never happens but if it does happen, hopefully we would have the skills developed to know how to respond appropriately,” Chief Puckett says.