TPD hosts training exercise at Brown Middle
The Thomasville Police Department joined forces with a bevy of local agencies Thursday for a training exercise at Brown Middle School that simulated a school shooting.
In the exercise, which lasted nearly three hours from start to finish, officers practiced their response to an active shooter. Several scenarios were prepared to test officers, deputies and emergency personnel on their ability to act quickly and effectively in the event of a disaster at a local school.
"This was our opportunity to actually throw different scenarios at our officers and at our partners and just to see how we would work together, how we would respond and how we would handle and get through a lot of these things," Thomasville Police Chief Jeff Insley said.
Some of the officers were cast into unfamiliar – and uncomfortable – situations as perpetrators in the shooting. The first two suspects acted as disgruntled parents whose displeasure with the treatment of their child escalated to violence.
Armed with heavy artillery, shooters left multiple victims in their wake. The alleged shooters set off firecrackers and used Airsoft guns to simulate the environment and feel of an actual shooting, similar to the ones that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary and Columbine High School.
The training also tested how well the different agencies could work together. Individuals from TPD, Davidson County Sheriff's Office, Thomasville Fire Department, Davidson County EMS, Fairgrove Fire Department, Pilot Fire Department and Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center were tasked with helping victims get out of the building safely.
“That's the added variable we sometimes don't always train for, having a victim,” Insley said. “Having to get the victim out, how we work with our partners that we all come together to make this run as smooth as possible.”
Insley said the department will spend the next couple of days looking at its response to the scenarios to see if anything can be improved. He also said it will look at whether it needs different equipment.
“We wanted to see how we would respond, how we would deal and how our partners would work with this as well,” Insley said. “We'll go back and assess protocol so that we're ready in the event – God forbid – something like this ever happens.”
Students who participated in the exercise entered with a buzz and excitement as they smeared fake blood and dabbed substances to give the appearance of gunshot wounds. Exiting the building, they spoke in hushed tones sobered by the realization this actually happened elsewhere.
“All I could think about was Sandy Hook,” one student murmured in a crowd of her peers.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3578, or at firstname.lastname@example.org