TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - It's a nightmare scenario for any community: Four shooters loose on a school campus - taking aim at innocent victims. That is what first responders trained for at Indian Capitol Technology Center in Tahlequah on Thursday.
"By law we are required to do these active shooter drills on a regular basis. We normally lock down for 10 minutes and then it's all over," campus director Robin Roberts said. "We wanted to have something more life like. Something that has the duration that an actual event would have - to mix some of the emotion with it. Where it leaves a lasting impression on our faculty and staff."
Police officers, sheriff's deputies, and SWAT teams swarm the campus. They take out the gunmen and rescue students and staff.
They evacuated 45 students who were playing the role of shooting victims to area hospitals by ambulance and helicopter. The OHP bomb squad was brought in their robot to help neutralize a fake pipe bomb. The hazmat team helped to clean up mock hazardous chemicals that spilled as part of the exercise.
This drill was created to test every part of Cherokee County's emergency response.
"We want to make sure that we work out the small things that need to be changed now before hand, said Cherokee County emergency management director Gary Dotson. "So when an actual event does arrive, we are prepared."
"Overall the exercise went well", said officer Bryan Swim with the Tahlequah Police Department.
Swim helped to organize the drill.
Swim says a recent state-wide initiative by CLEAT (Council for Law Enforcement Education Training) encourages law enforcement organizations to train together - using the same tactics when preparing for an active shooter scenario.
He credits that effort with making Thursday's drill go off without any major problems.
"All first responding officers are trained the same way," he said, "so when mass agencies respond, everybody is on the same page."
Every aspect of this exercise was captured on video.
Two companies called SecureNet Inc. and AgileMesh brought cameras to cover very angle of the drill. Cameras were stationed on rooftops and in parking lots. The mock gunmen and police officers were even equipped with small cameras.
Now that the exercise is over, all of the agencies that were involved can go back and look at the video that was shot during the drill. They can analyze what they did right and we they need to improve upon.
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