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Planning for the worst case

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A mock active shooter emergency response drill was conducted last week by the Bossier Office of Homeland Security at Bossier High School in conjunction with numerous city and parish agencies.

Schools, emergency responders hold active shooter disaster drill last Friday

A mock emergency response drill was conducted last week by the Bossier Office of Homeland Security in conjunction with numerous city and parish agencies.

The purpose of this drill was to train police officers, emergency medical crews and firefighters on how to respond quickly and efficiently in the case of a gunman on a school campus. Mark Natale, Public Information Officer for the City of Bossier City, said it is designed to train responders in a joint effort to not only engage the situation, but put an end to it as soon as possible in order to get help for the wounded quickly.

“As you’ve seen in the headlines for the past few years, these types of scenarios do happen,” Natale said. “We hope and pray that it never happens here in Bossier City or Bossier Parish. This is something you have to train for. The reality is that it could very well happen and we want to be ready for it.”

It was just after 9 a.m. when gunshots rang out at Bossier High, signaling the start of the drill. Within minutes, a call was made via police radio that there was a shooter in the band room and for all emergency personnel to respond.

As part of the training, participating agencies were not informed of the scenario that played out over the three hour drill prior to arriving.

First on the scene were police officers, who immediately entered the building to assess the situation and systematically search the building for the possible suspects.

“Times have changed. There used to be situations like this where officers would wait for backup before they would enter a building. That’s not the case anymore,” Natale said. “Officers are trained to arrive on the scene and immediately get into that building, utilize the information they have, find and neutralize the threat as soon as possible. There could be one or multiple armed individuals inside causing a lot of havoc and this operation is to train [responders] to stop an active shooter and render care as soon as possible.”

Participating agencies included the Bossier City Police Department, Bossier City Fire Department, Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office and several other Bossier parish emergency response organizations.

“We’re all in this together,” Natale said. “If something like this happens in Bossier Parish, we help each other.”

Also participating were members of the Cavalier Players from Bossier Parish Community College’s performing arts division.

“They tried to make it as realistic as possible,” Natale added, noting the yelling and screaming heard from inside the school building.

The mock emergency response drill was held during Fall Break for Bossier Schools, meaning no high school students were on campus while the exercise was conducted.

The emergency responders will now dissect their training performance in order to make adjustments or changes in their response plan, which could be a vital correction to a real life scenario.

“Something like this can be very real,” Natale said. “We’ve seen it happen all across the country. Based on those past instances, we’ve learned that you don’t wait to gather forces then address the threat. You get in there, put a stop to it and get help for the injured as soon as possible.”

In the event of a real life shooting, Natale urged the importance of allowing emergency responders to do their job and for the public to stay away from the scene.

“We will utilize the media in a situation like this to get word out to the parents about what’s unfolding at the scene and where they need to go to meet their children,” Natale said. “Students will be moved to a safe location to not only reunite with their families, but to also gather information from them about what occurred and what they saw.”