Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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August 21, 2013

Drill tests local emergency preparedness, response

Area law enforcement teams stage ‘active-shooter’ exercise at high school


Most armed law officers, deputies, troopers and rangers were clearly marked with yellow tape, denoting they did not have live ammunition.

Otherwise, the drill was intended to be as real as possible.

The “armed” police had to clear the area and set up a perimeter to allow emergency medical responders access to numerous downed high school students and staff to conduct triage and trauma medical care.

Eventually, they evacuated the teachers after they were locked down.

School resource officer Sherri Ford called the scene inside “Intense.” She described the situation where her colleague portrayed a shooter and fired off a blank gun.

A handful of students were on hand to aid in the simulation.

“It was really scary, it was terrifying,” said Junior Kara Salisbury, who said she was in the A Hall. “I got ‘shot’ in the back and then the cops came in, looking for the shooter.”

Salisbury said police found the shooter “eventually, because he was hiding.”

Amy Thomas said although this “was just a drill, it was nerve-wracking.”

For Hannah Laigle the drill was “really scary” and was “organized chaos.”

“It was uncomfortable,” noted student Mark Glover.

Others called it “fun” and said it seemed very professional.

According to MWPD Chief Dean Sullivan, the exercise not only included finding and disarming the shooter and caring for wounded, but also looking for secondary threats, such as backpacks potentially containing improvised explosive devices. Not only did this year’s Boston Marathon bombing and the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 include IEDs, but he said Fort Worth’s Wedgewood Baptist Church shooting included a secondary and tertiary threats.

Sullivan recalls the scenario well – he was there. He said the shooter left behind a pipe bomb in a hallway and had a vehicle full of explosives.     

“IED’s not a new phenomenon,” he said, citing a 1927 massacre in 1927 in Bath Township, Mich., when a disgruntled school board treasurer, defeated in an election, killed 38 elementary school children and six adults and injured at least 58 others. Sullivan said Andrew Kehoe put dynamite in the Bath Consolidated School’s boiler system the night before setting off the deadly explosion. But he had other devices as well.

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