WAKEFIELD – Students and staff at Wakefield Public Schools are preparing for the worst with a school-wide active shooter drill.
Law enforcement from across Northeast Nebraska gathered in the town before the drill to organize and run through the days event.
Dakota, Dixon and Wayne County Sheriff’s Departments, The Nebraska State Patrol, and the Emerson Police Department all contributed to the planning and execution of the drill.
Nic Kemnitz from Wayne County Emergency Management says they have been holding events like these at Wakefield Public Schools for years, each time getting more realistic.
“We’ve been helping coordinate with the school for the last few years and we’ve been leading up to this event. The coordination involved a lot of local agencies as well as some state resources.” Kemnitz says.
Kemnitz says they try to simulate what it might be like if an active shooter situation does take place.
“The life-like helps the students to understand if an event that would occur and it also helps the officers prepare for the stressful situations that could arise from it.”
Superintendent Mark Bejot says the idea of firing blanks during the drills came up at staff meetings as a way to simulate the sound of realistic gunfire.
“It’s important that you practice and people know what a gunshot sounds like. That was kind of those ‘aha’ moments in our early drills. I think at first it was very scary, but as we’ve done it, it adds a component of realism to the process.” Bejot says.
Law enforcement cleared around 45 rooms of the school and all K-12 students were evacuated from the building, just like as planned from years before.
After arriving to the designated pick-up zones, students were occupied with cards, board games and the company of fellow classmates while teachers counted to make sure they didn’t leave anyone behind.
“Right now they seems to be having a lot of fun, at least the elementary. They were busy playing games and having lunch when left over there. It’s kind of a different experience, but you know what, It what we want them to understand.”
After arriving to the pre-planned locations, students had the rest of the day off from classes.
Several hours after the drill ended, school officials and law enforcement debriefed and talked about what went right and what could use improving.