Active Shooter! Mock Drill at Coastal Pines Tech Teaches Valuable Lessons
September 19, 2015 02:40 PM
Article and photo by Myra Thrift, WJH Staff Writer
What would you do?
You are at work teaching tech students in their chosen courses when without warning ... a well-dressed man enters the front office, shoots and kills the receptionist, then makes his way down corridors, confronting and firing at everyone he passes in the hallways.
In immediate response, officers with the local police department arrive, having been alerted. Carrying protective gear and zoning in with their weapons, the trained officers are able to take down the intruder, carrying him out of the building to make sure everyone remaining in the building is safe. Capt. Tommy Cox (photo on the right) leads a group of Waycross Police Department SWAT Team members down a corridor.
That was the scene Friday morning at Coastal Pines Technical College, but—never fear—it was only a drill.
School officials know that in today’s uncertain world, such a scenario could easily be played out before their very eyes, putting the entire population in eminent danger.
College president Dr. Glenn Deibert and other officials went through the motions of a perceived threat, presented with solutions to the threat by school campus police officer James Mock and Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner, along with a team of trained officers who were there to teach officials the right way to respond.
After hearing the first shot, Mock instructed every teacher to “lock your door. Turn off your lights. Move to the back corner of the room.”
Mock said normally if an intruder finds a door locked and sees no lights on, he will move on to another location.
“What would you do if a real shot was fired? Someone is going to call 911 and the police will be coming. In the meantime, you get mean. Slap his hand away. Get creative. Use your body and fight for your life. Get in survival mode. It’s called survival. The surprise element is on your side.”
“Find yourself a weapon — a letter opener, a pair of scissors,” said Tanner.
Mock then added they cannot have mace on the campus but they can have a can of wasp or hornet spray, which will spray its product 20 feet.
The “active shooter drill” on the campus was acted out to help school officials to evaluate and improve key response processes.
Realizing that it’s important that plans are communicated, executed, evaluated and updated, as needed, Deibert said, “Putting a plan in action during a real-life situation is quite different from sitting around talking about it.”
Following the active shooter scenario, Mock led an after-action discussion with participants in which agencies evaluated their plans, processes and procedures in light of the day’s events. He noted that CPTC has other protocols and communication pieces in place that were not demonstrated during the drill, but ready to use, if needed.
Mock also explained that CPTC recently purchased a mass communication system and is in the process of getting it installed.
Mock, who coordinated the drill, thanked everyone involved, adding, “The exercise allowed the college and participating agencies to turn their paper plans into action.”
Dr. Deibert extended sincere appreciation to all of the participating agencies.
No one was injured during the exercise. Following the drill at the college, a lunch was provided for all of the participants and a debriefing was held to analyze the response.