By LIBBY CLUETT
Shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday, numerous city and county first responders sped to Mineral Wells High School – from the Mineral Wells Academy parking lot – to work on emergency preparedness efforts.
Just like a school holds fire and tornado drills, the Mineral Wells Police and Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Departments, along with the Mineral Wells Independent School District, coordinated the exercise to evaluate emergency response and operations plans in a simulated active-shooter incident, somewhat similar to the December tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“We are always thinking about and working on safety and security for our students and personnel,” said Mineral Wells ISD Superintendent Gail Haterius. “This morning’s emergency drill is the second exercise that Police Chief Dean Sullivan has organized involving our school district and city and county emergency responders to help all of us sharpen our processes and procedures to deal with emergency situations.”
The exercise involved varied local resources that would be likely respond in the event of an actual emergency in which a shooter attacks a MWISD school.
“Today, Lieutenant Randy Wright of the MWPD conducted an active-shooter exercise with other complicating factors added during the exercise,” explained Haterius. “The Mineral Wells Police Department, the state police officers from [Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway], the Palo Pinto County Sheriff Department personnel, EMT’s from the MW Fire Department and troopers from the Texas Highway Department all assisted in the drill,” she explained.
After “shots” were fired by an individual inside the high school, a first wave of Mineral Wells Police officers drove up and cautiously, but swiftly, entered the building. The next wave included two MWPD criminal investigators who arrived, geared up in bullet-proof vests and who assessed the situation and ran inside, with handguns drawn. Next to arrive were two park police, followed by two state troopers, the PPCSO tactical team and, lastly, three city ambulances and a fire engine.