Active shooter table-top suggested for 2023 county exercise after Uvalde shooting | News

An active shooter table-top scenario for next year has been suggested for the Local Emergency Planning Committee’s annual disaster exercise in light of the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

The committee has until the end of the month to turn its 2023 exercise plan in to the state. It was slated to be a chemical spill. The plan must be approved by August.

White County Office of Emergency Management secretary Pat Matheny said she told OEM Director Tamara Bays, chairperson of the committee, that since she had to get ready quickly to submit the plan, it would be a good year to go back and look at an active shooter exercise the committee couldn’t use because of COVID-19. She said it cost a lot of money and a lot of man hours were put into that, but the state decided every county had to make its own COVID exercise.

Assistant OEM Director Carla Johnson confirmed that the active shooter exercise was submitted in 2020, but was pushed back because of the COVID exercise.

Matheny said it would be good “to refresh everyone’s mind” on active shooter because of the Uvalde shootings, where 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School were killed by an 18-year-old.

Andrew Hradesky, a masters exercise practitioner, from the Arkansas North Central Hospital Coalition said he felt a little compelled to mention that the purpose of the exercise is not to create a topic with a scenario but to review the plans and policies and find gaps and weaknesses , then create the scenario that exposes those gaps and weaknesses to see how the region or whoever is doing the exercise does.

“A wonderful exercise isnt one that runs smoothly; a wonderful exercise is one where the gaps are exposed,” Hradesky said. “This is where mistakes need to be made, not to pinpoint the individual but to pinpoint the processes of that. When it comes to an exercise, you should be more focused on what your gaps are as an organization versus what the scenario is.”

Matheny said, “That is exactly why I expressed my concern, because the people in Uvalde had exercise. They had a plan. They knew what would go wrong, and no matter how many times you exercise and active shooter, we have done twice.”

Frankie Feltrop, the committee’s vice chairman who conducted Wednesday’s meeting in Bays’ absence, said he thought an active shooter exercise would be a good one.

Matheny continued … “and what, we’ve had two or three shootings these last couple of weeks?” Feltrop said. “There have been several.”

Hradesky said one of the things that was discovered in Uvalde was the children were told to hide under their desks, but he said that turned out to be their grave. He said there is actually one school that has “an s-shaped strong room that is within the room and once the students and teacher go in, it can only be opened from the inside, so the active shooter can’t get in there, and so one way to curb this is with construction of the facilities.”

Feltrop mentioned that millions has been spent over the years on fire protection for schools and it is not often anyone hears about problems with that.

“I guess when I watched all this news and saw all those little 5-6-7-year-olds get killed, all the news people that were really verbal [and said], ‘Our policemen just have to shoot fast and first,'” Matheny said. “That sounds terrible, but I completely agree. If you see someone with a gun and there are lives at stake, shoot them.”

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