Training helps WISD and local authorities tackle possibility of campus threats

Posted Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When it comes to safety in schools, most parents would agree that administrators and staff can never be too careful.

Unfortunately, there have been many incidents like Columbine and Sandy Hook, among others, that have made that painfully clear.

But in an effort to be as prepared as possible, Weatherford ISD administrators and a host of officials from the Weatherford Police and Fire Departments, Parker County Sheriff’s Office, Parker County Emergency Management team, surrounding fire and police departments and members from the Weatherford Star-Telegram participated in a mock tabletop drill June 19 that simulated gunmen at Weatherford High School.

Held at the Bowie Learning Center, the scenario unfolded as if police were informed that a gunman was at Weatherford High School prior to the start of school. Shortly after, WHS goes into lockdown and the incident escalates as another shooter is identified. From there, fires and explosions occur inside the building and officers are injured as they attempt to take down the subjects. Finally, about two hours in, both shooters are subdued and the building is cleared of any threat.

While the scenario is playing out, tables representing the different arms of law enforcement and support personnel are going into action. The busiest of the tables, of course, are the Command Center and the school district. As time goes by, Kit Marshall, Parker County’s Community Liaison for Emergency Preparedness and Shawn Scott, Parker County Emergency Management Coordinator, are activated.

The scene is, at times, chaotioc as dispatcher Nikki Richards is continually giving information, as well as dispatching calls of incidents happening around the county that are unrelated to the school shooting. WISD administrators are putting measures into place to ensure not only the scene at the high school is managed but all its other campuses as well.

After the simulation ended, each group discussed what went well and what areas needed improvement.

Grant Priess, WISD Executive Director of Operations, Safety and Security, said the exercise can never fully address the circumstances of a real-life situation but that it’s important to prepare as much as possible.

“Unfortunately, this is something we have to understand is part of today’s culture and we have to be ready for what can happen,” he said.

Priess said another training is being planned for the fall but this will be on site at a campus and more interactive.

Coincidentally, the University of Texas-Arlington was dealing with a campus lockdown the morning of WISD’s training after a report that an armed man was headed to its campus. The man, who was not identified, never made it to campus and was later taken to a hospital in Dallas.

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