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County-wide emergency Drill at EAMS and ACHS

Teachers evacuated at shooting drill at EAMS
Dr. Denita Dowell-Reavis

Alexander County Schools teamed up with the sheriff’s office and local emergency management for an active shooter drill Monday at East Alexander Middle School. Monday was picked for the drill because no students would be on campus for the teacher workday. The scenario included two shooters at East who were killed on site by deputies before any harm to students or staff.

The practice drill has been planned for months and is aimed at improving school and emergency response. Dr. Alisha Cloer is the safety officer for school district.

“Everything went really well. We have learned a lot from the exercise, which was the purpose in doing it. I appreciate all of the county agencies and the school system employees for the time they gave to this drill today,” said Cloer.

Ellendale teacher Chase Ivosic played the role of a student during the drill.

“It prepares us if we’re ever in that situation. You think you know how you’re going to handle it, but you never really know until you’re actually in the situation what It’s going to be like and what you’re going to do,” says Ivosic.

She adds the sequence of events was stressful.

“It was honestly nerve-racking to hear the shots. Even though you know that it’s not real, for that split second it is, so you have to think, ‘Oh my gosh, what would I do if this were a real situation,’” said Ivosic.

Once the staff who were acting as students for the training were safe to be evacuated, they were moved by bus to Alexander Central High School. There, staff, and emergency workers took care to match the appropriate child with the right person playing the parent’s role.

“I felt like that reunification process took a long time but maybe it was new, and they were being very thorough. As a parent, in a real-life situation, it would be a lot more anxious waiting,” said Emily Brown. Brown works as a teacher assistant at Ellendale. She played the role of a student during the practice.

The next development in the ongoing drill included an angry parent at the high school who then began shooting.

“I mean your only choice is fight or flight, so I hadn’t really thought about that. Because I think your first instinct is to kind of freeze,” said Brown.

Sheriff Chad Pennell spoke with teachers and staff gathered at the auditorium after both scenes were clear. The unexpected twist of a second shooting led to some staff members’ inaction.

Pennell told staff, “We want to be sure you are prepared and ready to react.”

The school system, sheriff’s office, and emergency personnel will continue to update the county’s plans for situations that happen without warning.

“Ultimately we are working to make sure schools are as safe as can be every day,” says Cloer.

Each Alexander County school practices lockdown drills several times throughout the year. According to the US Department of Education, 95 percent of American schools serving K-12 students practice active shooter drills.