Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Aug. 14 newspaper on Page A1.
McARTHUR — A few days before the start of the school year, teachers and staff of Vinton County Local School District received hands-on training in how they should respond to a an active-shooter incident.
The Vinton County Emergency Management Association, in cooperation with the Vinton County Local School District and area law enforcement and medical agencies, held an active shooter drill at Vinton County High School Tuesday morning.
Responding to the scene were the McArthur Police Department; fire departments from McArthur, Hamden and Zaleski; the Ohio State Highway Patrol; the Vinton County Sheriff’s Office; Vinton County and Athens County EMS; Ohio Homeland Security and the Ohio EMA. The Perry County EMA also arrived on-scene to serve as an evaluator for the simulation.
Roughly 260 school personnel were inside the high school building. Vinton County EMA Director Bill Faught noted that on an average school day, the number of people in the high school building would be nearly four-times that number.
Two “perpetrators” walked through the school building with airsoft guns. Faught said that faculty and staff could hear the sound effects as part of the live-enactment.
VCLSD Supt. Rick Brooks noted that all school buildings in the district have certain security measures they take on a daily basis.
For example, all school faculty and staff have ID badges. Students are not permitted to open the door for anyone to enter the building. Visitors also must check in at the school office before entering the main part of each building. Doors in the building are locked during the school day, too, and principals do walk-throughs in their building to make sure the school doors are secured.
“Back in the day, we didn’t have to worry about this,” Brooks said.
Faught presented information about the school district’s full-scale active threat exercise at the June Vinton County Board of Education meeting. Both Vinton and Jackson counties received grants to fund these exercises, which they both received earlier this year.
Area law enforcement apprehended the “suspects” and cleared medical personnel to enter the building and “treat” victims. Medical helicopters were simulated to land in the high school’s football field.
VCLSD teachers and staff were then directed away from the school building, guided to school buses and transported to the district office.
Faught noted that “reunification” of the students and their parents was a major part of the active shooter drill. In the case of an emergency situation, psychologists would be on site to talk to students after an incident of violence.
Some school personnel were assigned the role of “student.” Other were assigned the role of “parent.” The simulated parents gathered around the district office, waiting to be reunited with their children. Parents would also be briefed on the situation.
“Our staff takes safety very seriously,” Brooks said.