Texas school district hosts multi-agency active shooter training
Multiple agencies and departments in Palestine trained on communications and response in a simulated active shooter event
By Pennylynn Webb
PALESTINE, Texas — Swarms of law enforcement, emergency response personnel and their vehicles were seen around the Westwood Independent School District campus and Court Drive Church of Christ Monday during an active shooter training.
According to WISD Police Chief Mike Hoyt, WISD hosted this simulation to help our local law enforcement and emergency response teams see how the different agencies work together in this type of scenario.
This was a multi-agency response drill with a staggered response that was carried all the way out to the care of the wounded. The Westwood ISD Police Department, members of the Anderson County Sheriff's Department, Palestine Police, Fire and EMS along with the Department of Public Safety Troopers all participated. Hoyt said that the Fire Marshall and Emergency Management also showed up for the training.
Setup for simulation began around 7:30 a.m. The actual training session, which took just over an hour to compete, began at 9:10 a.m.
According to Hoyt and other members of local law enforcement, the first goal in any active shoot situation is to stop the killing, the following goal is stop the dying.
Hoyt said the WISD Police Team was the first team in and they "were able to get the shooter down."
"DPS, members of the Sheriff's Office and the PD then worked together to clear the rooms," Hoyt said. "The alert training that everyone has been to has paid off and everyone worked together well today.
Hoyt said there was one non-planned hiccup that ended up being a great challenge for participants to overcome during Monday's training.
"In every multi-agency response case since 9-11, communications has been an issue," Hoyt said. "We had a communication plan prior to starting the training, but when we arrived at the school issues that we had not expected arose due to the school's metal roof and we had to adapt and overcome which made for a good training, because that's a real world scenario we could face at that type of call. So, while we didn't do it on purpose, we were able to resolve the problem and it was a great learning experience."
Other members of our local law enforcement also thought the simulation went well.
"Overall, everyone performed well," said Palestine Police Chief Mark Harcrow. "These drills are set up for a high stress, worst case scenario. We found some areas where we need to improve and tighten up, but everyone worked well together. I have confidence that our emergency resources are ready should something like this happen."
"Today's training illustrated how well local law enforcement and first responders can work together in a critical incident," said Sheriff Rudy Flores. "It helped identify areas where we are doing well and where we can make improvements. All in all it was a very positive training experience."
Law enforcement and emergency response crews were joined by role playing volunteers who portrayed citizens, teachers, students and staff. These individuals were coached on what they needed to do and say to the emergency personnel during the simulation.
Simunition rounds, which are basically paint ball rounds, were utilized for this drill.
Westwood ISD Police also collaborated with Palestine Regional Medical Center to practice for a mass casualty event and transported individuals from the school by ambulance. They also set up a landing zone for landing a helicopter and moving "critically wounded" to a level four trauma center.
Hoyt said his wife, who was one of the volunteer victims, thought PRMC and Palestine EMS did a great job with their mass casualty response training.
Hoyt extended his gratitude to Brookshires its donation of water for those who participated in Monday's training.
Hoyt also thanked the Herald-Press, KYYK and the agencies involved for helping to inform the community about the event. He was also pleased no one was hurt or injured during the training.