Exercise simulates active shooter on school campus

Published 7:35 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2015

It was just a drill, but it left some Lafayette County teachers with tears on Monday.

The Lafayette County School District held a disaster drill on campus starting around 1 p.m. Monday, simulating a shooter in the school.

Responding to the drill were the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department, Oxford Police Department and even University of Mississippi police officers. Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi participated as well as the Wings medical helicopter that flew out a “patient” during the drill. The Missisisppi Emergency Manegement Agency was also on scene to help.

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Lafayette County Emergmency Management Coordinator David Shaw said the purpose of the drill was for the county to check its plan and see what changes needed to be made.

“Every good drill shows you where you can make some improvements,” Shaw said. “And that was deffinately the case today.”

Lafayette County School District Superintendent Adam Pugh said the real-life implications and seriousness of the drill left administrators and law enforcement in a somber mood, grateful for the experience.

“We wanted to know where we could improve safety,” he said, even though he said he was initially reluctant to have the drill when approached by a school resource officer. “We wanted to be proactive and know what we could do to make things safer.”

Pugh said he decided having the drill could only help the district and law enforcement and so he went for it.

“The most valuable thing was knowing how quickly they responded,” he said. “Our resource officers were there in a couple of minutes.”

Shaw said having the four school resource officers on campus proved to be worthwhile during the drill.

“Not every county has that kind of resource available,” Shaw said. “We have a good situation here with our SROs and the relationship between the school district and sheriff’s department.

Pugh said even though it felt like an eternity, it took about six minutes for the other law enforcement and emergency crews to arrive. Emergency Management Agencies from Pontotoc, Benton and Marshall counties even joined Lafayette.

Pugh said he also was pleased with the seriousness from the teachers and how they responded.

“It was very, very intense,” he said. “It was troubling we were having to have a drill.”

Ultimately, he said they are “responsible each and every day for those kids” and the experience ensured a little more preparedness for an emergency.

Shaw said the drill was an important one and was glad Lafayette County had the change to participate and review its plans should something like this ever occur; however, they weren’t able to completely assess all possible scenarios.

“One thing we couldn’t simulate is the number of parents who would be arriving on scene and wanting to get to their child,” Shaw said.