Active Shooter Training Drill "Went Well," According To Jefferson County Emergency Management

MERIDEN, Kansas (WIBW) -- School shootings, from Columbine to the more recent Connecticut and Nevada tragedies, have school administrators calling for safer schools.

Of course it's important to have measures in place to keep intruders out of schools, but what happens when they get in?

Jefferson West High School and local authorities tested its resources to see if they could avert a crisis, should it ever happen.

"Within the incident, we ended up having 6 fatalities, 5 critical and the rest were minor injuries," Director of Jefferson County Emergency Management Mike Baxter said.

These aren't real numbers, and no one really died at Jefferson West High School Friday. It was a county-wide drill that played out by local law enforcement and emergency management. All county resources were called, as if a real incident occurred.

They would allow 13 News any closer to the actual drill, but tell us they had three active shooters enter the high school with simunition weapons, where 20 students and faculty members acted out death and injury scenarios.

"When it was happening it was kind of intense," Senior Taylor Bahn said. He said they each got a note card telling them which role to play. His card said he would receive a gun shot wound to the head. Covered in red corn syrup, he told us what happened inside the school.

"As the police officers go by you need to be screaming and yelling out 'help me! help me!' and try to grab their leg like you would in a real-life situation."

Other students involved in the simulation said there was a hostage room where the "intruders" held students and their teacher.

"You didn't know what to do. When some of the people that were uninjured were supposed to run back and they were running, they were like 'don't shoot! don't shoot!' And the police officers told them to get on the ground. It seemed pretty real from where I was at," Bahn said.

More than ten agencies helped in responding and taking down the "intruders."

EMS and paramedics crews cleared each of the rooms and set up triage areas to assess damage and those injured and dead.

Baxter, along with other Emergency Management personnel and dispatch, were back at the fire house down the street from the high school communicating back and forth.

"Overall I think it went real well," Baxter said. "We did have a few issues, nothing major. They're issues we deal with everyday. Communications is a big problem in the county. Radio communication played a significant role in this."

After the simulation was over, everyone reconvened at the fire house to discuss what happened.

Those working dispatch said they had issues disseminating information coming in over the radios and who was responding to the scene. Everyone had issues with cell phone and radio connections.

"For our resources available we did really well. For an incident of this nature we rely on outside agencies to come help," Baxter said.

He said the kids were great and thought they got an accurate feeling of what would really occur.

"It was a good thing to do," Bahn said. "When we do the drills at school not everyone tends to take it as serious as you should, but I think it's an eye-opener. People will take it more seriously if you show them what it's about."

Bahn said it would make him feel safer.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputies, Potawatomi Tribal Indian Nation Police, Kansas Highway Patrol, Jefferson County EMS, Jefferson County Emergency Management, Jefferson County 911 Communications, Meriden Police Department, Rock Creek Fire Department, Osawkie Fire Department and Kaw Fire Department all assisted in Friday's drill.

Baxter said they will all assess its strengths and weaknesses and what needs to be done for next time.

More drills took place throughout the afternoon. Emergency Management will begin to plan another drill at another school in six months.


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