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Simulation prepares emergency personnel / April 25, 2013
Fire-EMS, School Officials, and Law Enforcement personnel conduct mock-drill to rehearse response to a school shooter

Halifax County emergency personnel participated in a mock exercise on Sunday, April 21 at the Halifax County Middle School. The exercise, a simulated school shooting, involved personnel from multiple agencies and organizations. Participants included volunteers from Clover, Liberty, South Boston, Turbeville, and Virgilina Fire Departments; personnel from Halifax County Rescue Squad; representatives from Halifax County Public Schools and Halifax County Sheriff’s Office; personnel from the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

“The purpose of the exercise was to educate our response personnel and to identify areas for improvement,” said Kirby Saunders, Halifax County Emergency Services Coordinator. The exercise, held in conjunction with an educational course, focused on the medical response to such an incident. The simulation involved approximately 40 simulated casualties and took just under 3 hours to complete.

“Regardless of the scenario, our primary goal is to save as many lives as possible,” Saunders said. The exercise, one of many planned for the future, was designed as a building block for preparedness. Exercises are critical to emergency preparedness and planning.

Recent events in the United States and abroad continue to demonstrate the importance of not only emergency planning, but exercising and revising plans prior to an actual event. Saunders concludes, “We are only as prepared as our plans are. Much like an athletic team or theatrical performance, we must rehearse our role in order to perfect it.”

Halifax County Emergency Services would like to extend a special thank you to Halifax County Public Schools for their continued partnership with public safety.

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It's a good thing to practice and be prepared, but I can't help thinking some of these Emergency Management agencies are capitalising on recent events to justify adding personnel and equipment- which we all know comes with a price.

Last week's incident in Pittsylvania (suspended student returned to Dan River HS with a gun, ammo and brass knuckles) turned out to be very convenient for their sheriff's $1.8 million school safety initiative, in which he wants to effectively double the size of his department by stationing a deputy in every school. He's been trying to expand his department for a while now and the county supervisors wouldn't fund it. So, he now has his smoking gun. But, props to him for holding off a while with his public statement, because he "didn't want the citizens to think he was exploiting the situation to justify his school safety initiative".

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