Safety features multiple “real-life” scenarios for first responders and school officials to practice high level threats if they were to happen. CONTRIBUTED

Active shooter training among safety scenarios for Vandalia schools

Vandalia-Butler Schools will conduct a safety exercise today with local police and fire to be ready for the new school year.

The school year begins Wednesday, and Vandalia-Butler Schools want to be ready for anything that could happen.

“The safety and security of all students, staff and visitors is a top priority for our district, and we are grateful to have a close-knit relationship with Vandalia police and fire as well as Butler Twp. police and fire departments which allows us to all work together to ensure our priorities are met,” said Anaka Johnson, communications and public relations coordinator.

The exercise will consist of real-life scenarios that could include active shooter, bus accident and medical emergencies.

“Through monthly meetings with our City Police Chief Kurt Althouse and Township Police Chief John Porter, we have been planning this training for over six months,” said Rob O’Leary, superintendent. “However, there are some components of the scenarios that will be elements of surprise that the district is not aware of.”

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The scenarios are developed by school officials for the element of surprise because police and fire do not always know what they are responding to.

The Vandalia fire department will exercise its Rescue Task Force (RTF) and Mass Causality Incident (MCI) response teams to active shooter or active violence incidents.

“It is critical for us to practice our response to these high acuity, and hopefully lower (never) frequency, events,” said Chad Follick, Vandalia fire chief. “We train for tragedy, and we hope and pray that we never have to use the skills that we train and prepare for.”

The police departments’ role in these situations can be to act as point in an “active situation” or as a first responder to assist the fire department.

“The police department will be participating in this exercise drill as first responders, just like we would on the scene of a real-life emergency,” said Althouse. “The priorities of the police on an active threat is to stop the threat, search the building or scene for any other potential threats, render the scene safe for emergency medical responders to treat injured victims, and secure the site to prevent further injury or death and for evidence processing,”

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The drill will also have multiple agencies, fire and police, from jurisdictions adjoining to Vandalia and Butler Twp. because in certain situations, multiple agencies would respond like in an active shooter situation.

“Schools are considered a ‘safe haven’ for the students in our district, and the school administration has taken great effort and made considerable investments into keeping the school campuses safe,” Althouse said. “But we would be remiss to never train for a critical incident.”

The safety exercise will not include students.

The event will be held from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Vandalia-Butler High School on South Dixie Drive.

“Although we hope we never encounter such a critical event, it is imperative now more than ever that we train and prepare to respond to any critical incident that threatens the safety of our schools and the community,” Althouse said.

Visit the school’s website or contact Johnson at 937-415-6409 for more information.

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