Active shooter training helps teachers, officers prepare for real scenario

Warning: While this is a mock scenario and no one was injured, parts of the video may be disturbing for some viewers.

It was only a drill but the mock active shooter situation staged at an area school was meant to provoke a real response. Multiple agencies took part in the training at De Soto Middle and High School today to prepare for an emergency they hope they never have to face.

This isn’t the first time the De Soto School District has held this type of realistic active shooter training. Each time they run through the scenarios, both school staff and law enforcement officials learn ways they can better prepare.

In the scenario, just after 1 p.m., shots rang out in the De Soto Middle and High School cafeteria. Victims fell to the ground and the superintendent came running with a fire extinguisher to use as a weapon. But the shooter shot a blank at her before continuing down the hall to look for more staff and students. Minutes later, help arrived.

“Drop the gun now!” one officer yelled at the shooter.

Officers took down the attacker, yelling, “Stay down!”

They then held him in custody and asked questions to get as much information as they can.

“You haven’t told us if there is someone with you or not,” one officer said to the man.

These officers come from multiple area agencies in Wisconsin and Iowa. It’s not often that they get to train side by side, but with so many schools in the area, officials say it’s good to run through this scenario with other departments.

“It’s very important that we are not only aware of the layouts of the schools but how we work with the other fire and EMS districts,” said Chief Deputy Nathan Campbell, of the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department.

For school staff members, this provided a lot of new variables that might not come up in other regularly scheduled trainings.

“You don’t really know how things are going to go down. So it’s good to have the unknown and be able to respond to it,” said Andrea Christopherson, a teacher for the district.

ALICE training, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, helps everyone involved learn how they would act and what their role would be.

“And really determine what it is we need to improve on and what it is we got right,” Campbell said.

Even before the training officially began, they noticed some things.

“We were having a discussion about the number of hand-held radios we need to make available so that we can communicate with any part of our building individually in emergency situations,” said Tim Fergot, associate principal for De Soto Middle and High School.

Officials will continue to discuss how they can improve upon their response so they can be prepared. The district held similar trainings at Stoddard and Prairie View elementary schools in June and staff members said they have continued to build on what they learned during those trainings.

The school district has received nearly $90,000 in school safety grant funding from the state. That funding has been used to make security upgrades and provide mental health training.

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