In July 22 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Somerset Community College's Russell Center in Russell Springs will hold a mock school shooting in an effort to train emergency personnel and law enforcement in the event of an actual emergency situation, according to H.M. Bottom, the county's emergency management director.
Bottom is working closely with Kenneth Estep, the college's security supervisor, on coordinating the mock event, which is slated to begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 30 at the local SCC campus on W. Steve Wariner Dr.
Unfortunately, workplace and school shootings do happen and that is the main reason for the training, Estep said.
"We do this to learn, we do this for the college to gain experience on what to do in a situation, we do it for the first responders in the area to train and learn our buildings where somebody may be hiding," he said. "It is a training exercise. We, as first responders, owe it to the students, faculty and staff, and the residents of the county to become better equipped to handle this situation if it ever arises."
This mock shooting will be the fifth one Estep's coordinated in his three years as the college's security supervisor.
"What we're going to have is one or two shooters enter the building and 'shoot' some people up," Estep said. "The first responders are going to have to go in and hunt them down and find them."
After those initial stages are over, EMS will then go in and do the quick triage on who is mortal, who is wounded and the like and then transport an undetermined amount of 'patients' to the Russell County Hospital so hospital officials, too, can get in on the training.
"We want this scenario to seem as real as possible," he said.
The mock shooting will use simunition weapons that fire soap pellet shells as bullets.
"It does hurt and will leave a little soap stain on them, letting them know that they got shot," he said. "It is not all throwing marshmallows at them; it is letting them know what it is like to get shot."
Estep said a specialist from Clinton County is even coming to dress the area with fake blood and organize the fake wounds to make the event seem even more realistic.
Each 'victim' will be treated and any 'eyewitnesses' will be interviewed on all aspects of the incident. The shooters will even be taken into custody if they make it out 'alive,' he said.
The average school shooting lasts between nine and 12 minutes, according to statistics.
While no SCC students will be used in the exercise, Estep said faculty and staff will experience it firsthand.
"It is not the students that need to know what to do it is the faculty and staff that need to know so they can tell the students what to do," he said. "That's why we train."
Estep said he and Bottom wanted to get the word out on the exercise before it happens so everyone will know that it is a self-contained exercise through the school with the first responders of the county.
"We don't want anyone to panic," he said. "There is a daycare facility behind the center but that building will not be affected; they won't even know it is going on."
Bottom said the curiosity of people passing by the center while the exercise is going on is what he is mainly worried about. With the entrances and exits blocked and emergency and police vehicles present, word will no doubt spread in a small town.
"We're the ones that would respond in the event that something like this happens," Bottom said. "We just want everyone to know we have to be ready."
Bottom said the mock shooting would be training for law enforcement, EMS, fire, hospital and resource officers with each one receiving training time for participating in the event.
"We're doing this as a service to those who pay our salaries," Estep said. "The good guys will win … we're not learning anything if we tell all the first responders they are dead."