Officials pleased with exercise
by Courtney Stevens
Oct 24, 2013 | 1740 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
EMA and other emergency personnel gathered in the main hallway of Cleveland High School before the exercise began to discuss what everyone's role would be once the "shooters" entered the school.
EMA and other emergency personnel gathered in the main hallway of Cleveland High School before the exercise began to discuss what everyone's role would be once the "shooters" entered the school.
Students ran down the hall and into the library screaming, as they were chased by "shooters," as they entered Cleveland High School during the active shooter exercise on Wednesday.

The exercise was held by Bolivar County Emergency Management Agency.

"We feel good about the way it was done. Everything was achieved that we attempted to achieve and we found some areas of concern that we need to take care of and some of those that we feel we did significantly well in," said EMA Director Bill Quinton.

Once the exercise was over, leaders of emergency personnel met back at EMA headquarters to discuss the outcome.

"We all discussed what we can do to improve and what we felt didn’t need improvement. We feel that our goal was accomplished in what we intended to happen because you learn what changes need to be made," said Quinton.

The exercise involved the Bolivar County Sheriff’s Department, Bolivar County Emergency Management Agency, Bolivar County Fire Department, the Cleveland Police Department, Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department, Cleveland Public Works, Delta State University Police Department, Pafford Ambulance Service, Bolivar Medical Center, Cleveland High School educators and student actors who played the roles of the students and shooters.

The exercise began early Wednesday morning with Bolivar County Emergency Management Agency swarming the halls to make sure everyone was in their places.

Seniors of Cleveland High School who were chosen to be actors were gathered in the library excitedly talking about the exercise, current assignments and sports practices after school, while men and women in bright EMA vests walked up and down the halls preparing other emergency personnel, as well as school faculty and staff.

The student actors were given small banners to wear around their necks declaring what their injury was.

Some of those injuries included "GSW (gun shot wound) to the leg," and "GSW to the abdomen."

Students then acted out those injuries once the exercise began.

CHS counselor Allison Jones was the designated actor who told the front office shooters were in the building.

It was then that the secretary came over the intercom, declared lockdown, and then called 911, who had been alerted of the exercise, and relayed the information.

The secretary was to be as specific as possible, including telling dispatch what the shooters were wearing and which door they used to enter the school.

The shooters, Cleveland Police officers Robert Livingston and Jasen Norwood, entered through the east door of the building and made their way down the hall.

Students ran throughout the halls, some into the library, while others attempted to get into other rooms and were "shot" in the hallway.

The sound of shots ringing out were simulated by setting off firecrackers in a trashcan in the hallway.

Those who ran into the library then took their places on the floor and pretended to be wounded, while others were in the halls screaming and crying for help.

The two designated "shooters" went through the lower floor of the high school and when police and sheriff’s deputies arrived, one intruder was killed while the other was "taken into custody."

Once the "shooters" were apprehended, more emergency personnel entered the building and began to triage the "wounded" students.

Bolivar Medical Center was prepared to treat the students once they reached the emergency room and went through the motions of how the wounds would be assessed and treated, including air lifting one student to The Med in Memphis.

Jackie Thigpen, Cleveland School District superintendent, said she was pleased the school was chosen for the exercise.

"While we hope Cleveland or the county never has to face such a situation, we were pleased to have been selected as the site for the active shooter exercise.

"This morning’s exercise allowed Bolivar County Emergency Response teams and the school to test how prepared we would be in the event such an incident occurs.

"It allowed us to assess strengths as well as weaknesses in our school safety plans and procedures. Information from the debriefing will be used to revise plans and practices to assure a safe school environment for all students," said Thigpen.