On the morning of Nov. 8, while students had the day off, McDowell teachers experienced what it was really like to be in a crisis situation as a live shooter drill commenced throughout the high school.
Millcreek Police came to the school where they set up nine different scenarios simulating real school shooter situations. One of the policemen acted as the live shooter, using a real gun filled with blanks. Teachers and staff performed typical hard lockdown procedures as the police team gained entry to the building, searched the hallways, and found the shooter, simulating how they would resolve the situation.
In each of the scenarios, the shooter (or shooters) would hide in various places around the school including the cafeteria, library, south gym, and the back hallway. Teachers and staff participated in four of the nine situations, but were allowed to observe the rest from the library.
Some teachers decided to opt out of this intense drill by seeking safety at MIHS. Only about twenty staff members decided to do so, leaving fifty teachers to experience this real world test.
Mrs. Cleopatra Gorlaeus, a physics teacher at the school, explained how she knew it was fake, but she still felt incredibly nervous. “It seemed very real,” she said. “It’s a very different feeling, hearing it.” She remembered hearing very loud yelling, loud gun fire, and other startling sounds.
On the opposite side of the building, Mrs. Sharon Comi, a secretary in the McDowell office, explained how the shooter was right outside her open office door as the simulation was going on. “I’ve never been so close to a gunshot,” she said.
Mr. Brian Fuller, the McDowell High School principal, proposed this drill so the school faculty and police department could be better prepared if a live shooter situation were to really occur.
“It was a very eye opening experience,” said Fuller. “We learned that it’s important to take hard lockdown drills seriously.” He explained that one problem that arose during the simulations was how long it took the police to gain entry into the building. Luckily, they discovered that problem and resolved before a real situation were to occur.
Fuller further expressed interest in doing a second live shooter drill, this time with paramedics and re- men. He said that he would even be open to, with proper amounts of planning, student volunteers so they can experience and learn what it’s like.
Student and faculty safety was Fuller’s first priority in planning the drill, so no one participating in this was in danger in any way, all while making sure the school will remain as safe as possible in the event of a similar emergency.
As featured in the December 2016 issue of The Trojan Voice