Students, emergency crews train for school shooting scenario

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INDIANAPOLIS – Local first responders and state agencies conducted a mass shooting training exercise at Lynhurst 7th and 8th Grade Center on Friday.

Shane Hardwick, EMS operations officer for the Wayne Township Fire Department, started planning the training exercise nine months ago, before the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

“There (have) been 62 (mass shootings) since 1982. There (have) been 25 since 2006 and in 2012 alone there (were) seven mass shootings. Every 52 days, somewhere in America, there was a mass shooting,” Hardwick said. “This is something that’s becoming more and more prevalent in our society, and we really don’t have a whole lot of training statewide that addresses that issue.”

The drill consisted of a fake shooter and a total of 30 injured children and adults. First, officers located and apprehended the suspect. Then, a number of emergency crews evaluated the victims. After that, crews identified who was critically injured and who was not critically injured. High-priority patients were taken to the hospital.

“The point of this is moving a mass (number) of people that are injured from where the injury occurred (and) to get them on the way to the hospital,” Hardwick said.

Hardwick said Friday’s training was about practice, communication, and working together—no matter where the help came from. He told Fox 59 that he listened to the audio from the July 2012 Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, using what he learned to prepare for the exercise.

“The decisions made in the first couple minutes of the incident in Colorado really set the tone and really slowed down the entire process,” Hardwick said.

During the training, emergency crews talked about what they learned. Hardwick said the exercise will be reviewed and discussed among several agencies. About ten agencies participated in the training, including the Department of Education, Homeland Security, police departments and fire departments.

“For us it’s a matter of getting some practice (and) letting them get familiar with our building, and I think there’s an advantage to that,” said Dan Wilson, principal of Lynhurst 7th & 8th Grade Center.

Wilson’s school hosted the training at the request of the Wayne Township Fire Department. The date marked the six-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre—a tragedy that Wilson said prompted a review of his school’s security plans.

“Those folks are still in our thoughts and our prayers. It’s horrible,” Wilson said. “As a parent or as a principal, you never want to ever imagine your kids in a tragedy like that, but at the same time you have to be responsible and you have to step up and be as prepared as you can be.”

Wilson said he planned to inform the school district about what he learned during the exercise.

“We want them (the community) to see we are looking out for kids,” Wilson said.

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