Active shooter training scheduled for June 25
With the memory still fresh of the May 24 Uvalde, Texas massacre in which 19 kids and two teachers were shot to death in their classrooms at Robb Elementary School, plans are underway for a day of active shooter training in Newcastle schools.
“We need to be prepared. We always say it can’t happen here, but …” Gilbert Nelson, the county’s emergency management coordinator, told the News Letter Journal.
Newcastle and Weston County emergency response agencies, along with Weston County School District No. 1 and Weston County Health Services, are scheduled to participate in a full-scale drill on Saturday, June 25.
“We are going to train for something like what happened in Uvalde, so we are not sitting and waiting — so we can be proactive,” Nelson said.
The plans for the large-scale drill were in the works well before the shooting in Texas, Nelson reported, but he acknowledged that these kinds of training are important, especially right now. While the drill is being undertaken by local entities, Nelson noted that emergency response personnel from around the state will be on scene to assist and evaluate.
The training, he said, will be lightly scripted, featuring shooters, officers, victims and other emergency response professionals. Agencies that will participate include the Newcastle Police Department, Weston County Sheriff’s Office, Newcastle Ambulance Service, Weston County Detention, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Weston County Search and Rescue, Newcastle Volunteer Fire Department, Upton Volunteer Fire Department, Upton Volunteer Ambulance Service, Weston County Health Services, Weston County Public Health, Newcastle Dispatch and Weston County School District No. 1.
“We will be testing everyone’s procedures, Nelson said. “I know it won’t be perfect, but that is okay. We will learn what we can do to improve, and what we need to work on.” Nelson said.
As previously reported by the News Letter Journal, Weston County School District No. 1 provides active shooter training to students every couple of years, but Nelson said this training is intended for first responders and other emergency personnel. He believes this is the first drill of this magnitude to take place in the area.
“There are so many scenarios, he said.“We are going to see how people will react, see what decisions they make.”
There are a few parts of the scenario that have been set in stone for the drill. Specifically, Nelson said, the shooter’s entrance is planned, as well as the path of destruction. What will be fluid is how individuals react to the shooter.
The shooter will start in Newcastle Middle School, Nelson explained, and the first of roughly 20 victims will be the secretary, right as the shooter enters the school.
From there, the shooter will go through the middle school, making their way toward Newcastle High School and leaving a trail of carnage along the way.
As the incident unfolds, officers will respond, victims will be extracted, bodies will be loaded in any vehicle possible and rushed to the hospital. At this time, Weston County Health Services will take the victims and provide life-saving treatment, in theory.
“We are trying to make this as real as possible,” Nelson said.
This includes the use of actors playing victims, known as “moulage.” Officers involved will work to apprehend the suspect, while dispatch fields calls from concerned parents and citizens.
Throughout the training, evaluators from Crook and Campbell counties and Wyoming Homeland Security will assess the performance of those involved.
“There will be praise, but the focus will be on what we can improve on,” Nelson said.
The training will begin at 8 a.m. at the Newcastle Fire Hall for staging and preparation. The active portion of the drill will begin at 10 a.m.
“Hopefully, this training will help us prevent what happened in Texas. This is all about all of us wanting to protect kids and be as prepared as possible,” Nelson reasoned.
He has asked the public to avoid contacting dispatch to ask questions, and avoid the scenes where the drill is taking place. He additionally explained that sirens and lights will not be used by the emergency vehicles used in the drill to avoid creating public confusion.