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

(Continued)

“Officers, fire and EMS have been trained to look for secondary devices [and learn] that secondary devices could get you,” Sullivan said.

He said Tuesday’s drill was under “safe and controlled conditions” and they were tripled checked for extra precaution.

“Today’s exercise went well. It did identify some operational gaps, both anticipated and unanticipated,” Sullivan told the Index. “Those unanticipated things made this scenario more lifelike.”

He said communication was an issue with the radios. While people inside could hear each other, according to one deputy, those outside couldn’t hear radios on the inside very well.

“In an emergency, communication is absolutely essential,” he noted. “That’s one of the areas I anticipated might be exposed and sure enough.”

“It did expose weaknesses in some areas that we will address moving forward,” Sullivan said of this and other issues. “This is a good next step [and provides] a platform to build upon, moving forward for all the stakeholders in this exercise.”

“I, personally, appreciate all of the first responders and also our high school faculty, staff and administrators for participating in this exercise,” Haterius said of the exercise.

“We learned quite a bit just by going through the process,” she added. “We discovered some areas that we want to improve in order to increase the overall security for our schools.”

“You have to take advantage of the opportunity when you have time to prepare,” Sullivan said. “Many communities think about preparation in the midst or after the fact. We have a formidable plan if and when a catastrophic event occurred in our area.”

Sullivan cited the Wedgewood Baptist Church shooting and the 2000 Fort Worth tornado, as two crises he has been involved with. He said he has been able to share some of his personal experiences, as well as “a significant amount of training on incident response and command.”

The bottom line for local first responders is to “be as best prepared as we can be with our limited skill set.”

The next steps include debriefing, which they did as a group Tuesday after the exercise and, Sullivan said that individual entities will debrief their groups.

“Everyone will be reviewing their individual organizational plans and comparing them to the county emergency management plan.”

Sullivan said they will plan for another exercise, perhaps toward the latter part of the coming school year.

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