Emergency services of Monroe County held an active shooter training session at Vonore Middle School last Friday.
The training was a collaborative effort between the Monroe County School Board, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, Emergency Medical Services, the dispatch center, Monroe County Fire and Rescue and volunteers who played the victims in the scenario.
The drill consisted of an officer portraying the role of an active shooter who ran through the halls of the school along with people who played victims to test the response times of dispatch along with other emergency services.
“This is to make sure that all of the agencies know how to work in cooperation with each other if there was an incident like this,” said DeAnna McClendon, Monroe County director of schools. “You’ve got fire here, the police, EMS, so this was to see if we could coordinate with the school’s lockdown procedure and all of these agencies ... so that we could work together should an incident occur.”
Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones II said the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department has held similar trainings before, however not to this scale.
“We do intruder drills randomly throughout the entire year with the SROs and patrol deputies,” said Jones. “Scenario training like this, at this magnitude, is the first time that we have done it and hopefully we will do it a lot more.”
To add to the pressure on the training exercise, the volunteers who played the victims each held a timer to signify the amount of time they would have to survive before succumbing to their injuries.
“Considering that this is the first time that we have done this, it went really well,” said Jones.
The exercise was able to show Jones some areas that need to be addressed in case a real situation were to ever unfold.
“With officers not being able to access the school, that bothers me because every second counts,” said Jones. “Just based off today on the training overall, dispatch, EMS, law enforcement, fire and rescue everyone did a good job.”
McClendon agreed with Jones and noticed things that could use some work.
“I think we saw some areas that we needed to work on,” said McClendon. “Of course that is the whole purpose — to make sure we know what is working and what needs tightening up.”
Jones hopes to be able to improve his department’s preparations for such an event.
“Hopefully we’ll see more training in the future and it goes smoother and smoother as we do it,” said Jones. “We can train for it all day but every live situation is different so training never hurts.”