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County conducts active shooter drill

Law enforcement and county school system officials said the active shooter training drill held at Escambia County Middle School on July 13 was a success.

The purpose of the drill was test both law enforcement and the schools’ readiness if an event like this were to occur. The scenario included a gunman entering a middle school while school is in session The gunman shoots multiple people, inflicting various injuries.

Escambia County School System staff and teachers served as volunteers, or participants, during the session, which had two different drills.

“I was impressed with the turnout we had with school personnel,” Chief Deputy Mike Lambert said. “For them to care enough on their time off — and that’s precious these days — to care to come in and do that, meant a lot to me.

“I had one with tears in their eyes after they heard shot gun blasts going off down the hall,” he said. “Reality hit. That’s what it’s going to sound like.”

The ECSO, ECSS, ECMS, Atmore Police Department, Atmore Fire Department, Poarch Creek Police Department, Poarch Creek Fire Department, Atmore Ambulance, ASAP Ambulance, Atmore Community Hospital, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Coastal Alabama Community College and Escambia County Emergency Management Agency participated in the training session.

School and law enforcement officials, along with members of the media, sat in a separate room at ECMS and got a multi-screen view of the drill. As soon as the first drill began, the volunteers began barricading classroom doors as shotgun blasts rang out down the halls. Beforehand, Assistant Superintendent Beth Drew sent out an emergency cast message to classrooms and parents.

Within minutes of the drill beginning, law enforcement officers — communicating through radios — subdued the shooter in the scenario. During the training, law enforcement had to confront volunteers suffering from different gunshot wounds, and fake blood.

Lambert said this training session woke a lot of people up to the importance of making an effort to not put this training on the back burner.

“We pray and hope we never have to use this training,” he said.

Lambert said there were things that need to be shored up, but overall the drill went well.

“I was impressed with everybody involved,” he said. “EMS and fire, they worked great together. I know we identified several things and weaknesses. We necessarily didn’t do things wrong. We found ways to do things better and be better prepared.”

All officers present for the training session went through the drill.

Additionally, a triage center was set up in the ECMS gymnasium for training during this type of drill.

Superintendent John Knott said that he’s thankful for the training session, which will help out in the long run.

“Through this, we hope we can identify areas we have down pat,” Knott said. “We also expect to find areas we have needs.

“I think we’re going to get a lot of useful information to provide an even safer atmosphere for our teachers and students,” he said.