Mass. School Shooting Drill Puts First Responders to the Test
The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
Aug. 08—The wounded teenagers were strewn on the floors and up against the walls of a corridor in a safety drill for first-responders Tuesday at Lawrence High School.
It was a simulation of a school shooting: Alarms repeatedly sounded and some of the teens repeatedly cried for help.
Two armed Lawrence officers—Sgt. Shawn Quaglietta and Terence Pennington—carefully made their way down the hall, clearing the path for firefighters and paramedics.
"This one is shot in the back and this one has a head wound right here," Pennington said loudly as he checked on the youth actors posing as school shooting victims.
"These two are critical," Pennington shouted.
Once cleared by the police officers, local firefighters and Lawrence General Hospital paramedics quickly moved down the hallway and started tending to and removing the bloodied shooting victims from the Lawrence High hallway.
Lawrence Chief Roy Vasque and Methuen Chief Joseph Solomon watched and critiqued the crews throughout the drills that ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Afternoon drills involved rescuing victims from Lawrence High and then getting them to the ER at nearby Lawrence General Hospital.
"Five or six victims are going up to the hospital," Vasque explained.
Using Lawrence High as the backdrop, police, firefighters and paramedics from all over the Merrimack Valley participated in the mock safety drill. Officers from the Essex County Sheriff's Department also attended.
"This doesn't so much deal with the shooter itself but the aftermath," Vasque stressed.
Vasque noted in the event of a school shooting or other mass casualty incidents, all local departments would combine forces.
"We are going to respond there and they are going to respond here," he said.
Solomon said he was pleased to be invited to the Lawrence drill, noting training is the key to handling any incident.
The kids used in the safety drill were bloodied and afflicted with various injuries created with costume makeup. They are the children of local police officers, a local football team and students enrolled in the Lawrence Police Department's explorer's program, Vasque said.
"This training is very realistic," Solomon said.