|The first response team gets ready to enter the Canyon View Junior High in Huntington.|
The Emery County Sheriff's Office is participating in a series of lockdowns at area schools. Sheriff LaMar Guymon said, "This is something we hope we will never have to use, but we will continue training with our emergency response team and auxiliary organizations. Sgt. Tom Harrison has been going into the schools before the lockdown drills to inform the students about what will take place. The more the students know the more cooperative they are on the day of the exercise. It will also help them to react to a situation, should a situation ever arise.
"It is also helpful for the deputies to go into the schools so the students become familar with them and the sight of deputies in their school doesn't disturb them. It also helps the deputies to become familiar with the schools. This is especially true for the younger students. SWAT-like gear can be scary for the younger students. The older kids seem to take it all in stride," said Guymon.
On this particular day the lockdown was at Canyon View Junior High in Huntington. The mock drill had an intruder in the building. The school immediately went on lockdown with the instructions for the lockdown being announced over the intercom into each of the classrooms. The office personnel then notified the Emery County Sheriff's dispatch that an intruder was in the building and they needed assistance. At this time the emergency response team responded to the school. The team entered the building where they secured the building. Each of the classrooms were locked so the halls, bathrooms and closets, everything was cleared. Ken Eley with the tactical emergency medical team was also involved in the exercise.
After the building had been declared clear, the teachers were instructed to wait for an officer to knock on the door and identify himself, after this had taken place the teachers were to accompany their students and evacuate the building.
The students gathered outside and made their way down the road and across SR-31 which the deputies had temporarily closed so the exodus across the highway could take place.
The students were seated in the Huntington rodeo grounds where their teachers again called roll to make sure all students were accounted for and in place on the bleachers.
Capt. Kyle Ekker was the incident commander for the exercise. After the students came back into the school, the Captain and the emergency teams met outside to discuss the exercise. Capt. Ekker instructed the men that in this type of situation there is no negotiation. If there is a threat identified in the school then eliminate the threat by force or surrender, quickly. Rapid response and deployment is about prioritization. First-responding officers must locate and engage the active shooter. The offender must be located, identified, fixed in place and defeated. The prime objective is to stop the aggressive action and coordinated movement. This may require officers to pass by the wounded to confront the threat. The rescue mission follows with victims located and removed for medical assistance with all possible speed.
Sheriff Guymon let the men know that any equipment they need to do their job more effectively to let him know so this equipment can be purchased. He instructed the deputies that as a situation takes place they need to be observant and truthful about what goes on. "Evaluate it and be prepared to talk about your perceptions on what has taken place," said Sheriff Guymon.
|The first response team enters the front door of the elementary school in Orangeville.|
Capt. Ekker instructed the deputies that in the near future they will have firearms training which will train the deputies how to take a shot in a crowded area.
Sgt. Harrison discussed the perimeter and how securing the school took place. The officers observed that the students had bunched up and they needed to just keep walking to get away from the building. Capt. Ekker observed that in an emergency situation parents may need to pick up the students from a designated area. After the students are evacuated across the road to the rodeo grounds the parents could be instructed to use that area as a pickup point. If the Huntington Elementary is used as a gathering point then the parents would pick students up there.
School principal Larry Davis said, "We really appreciate the sheriff's office for holding this exercise. The safety of our students is our utmost concern."
The school officials and the sheriff's office personnel sat down together after the exercise to go over any possible problems and ways to improve. One concern for the school was knowing where the students were and who is in attendance that day. Students are always leaving for doctor and dentist appointments throughout the day and getting control of this situation is a concern.
The office is the control center of the school and instructions to the school will be sent forth from the office. It's also important the sheriff's office can have close contact with someone who knows the school. Sheriff Guymon instructed the office personnel to keep notes on anything that has transpired at the school. They can then relay this information to dispatch or to the officers coming in to help. He also said they need to keep someone in phone contact with the dispatch. It is beneficial to keep someone on the line at least until the officers arrive.
Sgt. Harrison stressed the point that each situation will be different and sometimes an evacuation might be required and sometimes everyone would remain in the school.
There are 201 students and 28 faculty and staff at the junior high.
The debriefing session identified some problems which will be corrected. Sgt. Harrison commented the students were all very well behaved during the evacuation drill.
Sheriff Guymon said, "We certainly hope we never have to use this training in a real life situation, but in the advent of an emergency situation at any of our schools we will do our best to protect the safety of the children in our communities."