Wood County Authorities Take On Mock School Shooting

By: Brittany Lowe Email
By: Brittany Lowe Email

Preparing both the school and authorities. Wood County first responders and school staff react to a mock school shooting.

It all happened at West Virginia University at Parkersburg with students acting as victims and gunmen.

"A school shooting is our biggest possible threat here at the college," explains WVU-P's director of communications and marketing, Katie Wootton.

A call comes into 9-1-1, 'This is a drill, there is a shooter at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.' The school is put on lock down.

"During school hours that way our staff and faculty can benefit from the drill so they would know what to do in case something like this every happened," says Wootton.

Students become victims one by one. Local law enforcement, fire and EMS are then put to the test, forcing the many different agencies to work together.

"They were unaware of the scenario other than there was an active shooter at the campus. As patrol officers arrived the scenario started to involve other shooters, up to three shooters on campus," says Wood County Sheriff's Office Captain Rick Woodyard.

"There is blank ammunition being fired that adds to the realistic scenario," says Wootton.

Four different law enforcement agencies became involved in the drill, being dispatched to the scene and responding with their instincts.

"So each officer was thrown off kilter a little bit maybe havening to work with someone that they rarely have the opportunity to work with," explains Woodyard.

Once lock down is in place, 9-1-1 then administers their Mobile Command Unit and Team.

"Keep the event away from the 9-1-1 center so they can go ahead and handle any other emergency issues," explains Lowe.

You can see as officers make their way into the school looking for the three shooters and possible victims, or in this case, actors. While they're inside, Department heads are able to have an extra eye in the sky to help analyze the situation.

"Gives a location for all the instant commanders to know where to meet and where they can gather the details of the event and keep an open line of communication with the people that are on the front lines," says Lowe.

Once the school and area is cleared, officers were able to explain their concerns, if the scenario would ever become real.

"Each agency will take back what they learned today, their weaknesses and strengths, we're setting a meeting with all area law enforcement officers that participated to sit down and go over the strengths and weaknesses," says Woodyard.

Authorities say communication was the only main concern.

"Tactically and operationally it went very well today," continues Woodyard.

Without the drill agencies never would've known the issues, or lack there of, they now face.

With more than 75 people participating, getting them all on one page, or frequency, became concern.
And while they were able to get the job done effectively, all agencies agree there was one issue that could use some work, communication.
"It's something we're always working at and we're nipping that and I think we're going to overcome obstacles today," explains Woodyard.

"There has always been a communication problem between multiple agencies. We're getting better, but we're not there yet. We need to work on communication between all agencies there, police fire and EMS," says Lowe.

But those issues didn't change the fact that law enforcement was able to work together to get the situation under control and secure the area.

"When they all come together for an event such as today, it extraordinary to see how they do work together, even with communication issues," continues Lowe.

Wooten also reported issues inside the school with getting the announcement out to other entire school. She says the school is already taking steps to fix the problem and develop a multimedia option.

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