Mock mass casualty train held at Gretna Center College
GRETNA — An alarm is triggered after faux gunshots ring out at Gretna Center College on a sunny Monday morning.
Quickly, legislation enforcement and emergency autos arrive one after the other over a number of minutes on the faculty’s parking zone.
The exercise was a part of a scripted mass casualty train, or mock-shooting, held on the faculty the place about 200 folks from about 20 organizations participated.
The aim of the train was to check businesses’ preparedness and response within the occasion of a mass capturing.
“We simply need to be as ready as we will ought to now we have a mass casualty occasion, whether or not it’s man-made [or naturally occurring], we simply need to be as prepared as we probably can,” Pittsylvania County Sheriff Mike Taylor informed the Danville Register & Bee within the Gretna Excessive College parking zone earlier than the train began. “The entire course of is to, on the finish of the day, see the place our strengths are and the place our weaknesses are so we will higher serve once we’re referred to as upon.”
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An incident command was arrange on the center faculty, whereas reunification command was arrange on the close by highschool.
Reunification refers to reuniting college students with mother and father and academics with spouses following a college incident.
Collaborating organizations included the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Workplace, Pittsylvania County Colleges, Gretna Police Division, Danville Sheriff’s Workplace, Virginia State Police, FBI, Virginia Division of Emergency Administration, Virginia Division of Transportation, Centra and Sovah Well being-Danville.
The method main as much as the train began in January, when re-unification coaching was held with a nonprofit group, I Love U Guys, on the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complicated.
Comply with-up conferences had been additionally held.
“We’ve been assembly on this course of now for a number of months and it culminated within the precise occasion immediately,” Taylor stated.
Throughout Monday’s train, practically 200 individuals from businesses and organizations performed the roles of scholars, academics, mother and father, law-enforcement, EMTs and different responders, in addition to a shooter.
“We pray that it will by no means occur in Pittsylvania County Colleges,” stated College Superintendent Mark Jones. “We’ve got very secure communities in Pittsylvania County. We’ve got very structured colleges, so we really feel superb, however you simply by no means know.”
Jones identified that when a mass capturing occurs in a neighborhood, the frequent chorus is “We didn’t suppose it will occur to our neighborhood.”
“So we need to be ready in Pittsylvania County ought to one thing like this occur,” he stated.
The county sheriff’s workplace has been working with the varsity system for a couple of 12 months, Taylor stated, to verify his company has maps and layouts of the county’s colleges. That features entrances and exits and locations the place responding autos can get out and in, he added.
“It’s been lots within the planning course of, so now we’re pushing that out to each considered one of these officers, each law-enforcement company, so we will get one of the best response within the least period of time,” Taylor stated.
The active-shooter train began at round 8:20 or 8:30 within the morning and lasted till about midday, with mock information conferences together with a spokesperson for Pittsylvania County and a spokesperson for VDOT appearing as reporters asking questions of Taylor and different officers throughout updates all through the morning.
At first of the train, reporters stood on a grassy knoll — positioned between the highschool and center faculty — overlooking the center faculty because the occasion unfolded.
Officers watched the “incident” unfold on screens arrange in separate rooms inside the highschool.
What seemed like gunshots may very well be heard from the knoll simply earlier than an alarm goes off. Sheriff’s workplace and state police autos trickle into the parking zone.
A sheriff’s deputy sprints into the entrance entrance of the varsity and ambulances from Gretna and Chatham rescue squads arrive. A couple of minutes later, two extra deputies trot into the varsity constructing, with weapons on the prepared.
A medical helicopter takes off from behind the varsity and leaves and, as a part of the train, returns to reply to the “capturing.”
Quickly, county sheriff’s autos line the parking zone, together with these from different responders. Train individuals are loaded onto two faculty buses whereas others are escorted on foot to the highschool with their fingers within the air.
“Dad and mom” line the aspect of the highschool, ready to affix their youngsters inside.
“’The place are my youngsters?’” one shouts at a deputy headed inside.
Inside a darkened remark room, Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Workplace investigator Molly Motley remotely retains responders on the bottom apprised of what’s occurring on the scene of the capturing.
“I’m describing what’s happening, for the significance of coaching,” Motley stated.
What she says is relayed to everybody responding on the center faculty.
At simply after 10 a.m., Taylor holds a “information convention” through which he informs media of a shooter getting into the center faculty. He was discovered useless in a rest room.
“That shooter is deceased,” Taylor stated, including that authorities have no idea his identification.
Whether or not his dying was self-inflicted was not but decided, he stated.
There are some casualties, however he couldn’t say what number of.
Greater than 30 state troopers and 20 completely different businesses responded to the “capturing.”
“Their response has been speedy due to the coaching we did prematurely of this,” Taylor stated.
One other “information convention” was slated for 11 a.m.
As for the train, Taylor stated authorities have recognized “issues we’ve obtained to do higher.”
“We will all the time enhance,” he stated. “That’s the entire function of the train. It’s exhausting to anticipate every thing that occurs.”
A gathering was set to be held to evaluate the train and talk about strengths and weaknesses, what to enhance.
John R. Crane (434) 791-7987