“Shots fired. Shots fired in the Dadeville Elementary School lunchroom. We have multiple gunshot victims” came across the radios Friday but it was only a drill.
“We have been planning this since November,” Tallapoosa County EMA director Jason Moran said. “It has taken a lot to get here.”
Moran and other first responders, Tallapoosa County school officials and administrators with Dadeville Healthcare and Lake Martin Community Hospital came up with a scenario to have first responders and officials deal with events across Dadeville. Friday’s episode started at Dadeville Healthcare where a suspect by the name of John Outlaw entered the facility and assaulted an employee in a domestic violence situation. From there Outlaw left at the mention of police and stopped by Dadeville Elementary School in an attempt to pick up a child of his while carrying another child.
In the process, Outlaw was first confronted by teachers before reaching the lunchroom where a school resource officer was shot along with nine other students. Outlaw’s shots struck the resource officer in his bulletproof vest, killed two students and left seven more injured. Students were made up with mulage materials supplied by the Alabama Fire College Work Place Safety Division to create life-like injuries through the help of Kyle Sasser. Two of those students were flown from the scene.
As Outlaw retreated from Dadeville Elementary School, he realized his 5-year-old child he was carrying had been struck and went to the Lake Martin Community Hospital where he encountered law enforcement escorting other students Outlaw injured at the lunchroom.
The scenario ended with a mock press conference where officials gave details of the day’s events, encouraging those seeking information about family members to use 211 instead of placing calls to 911.
Friday’s exercise included the Dadeville and Jacksons Gap police departments, Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department, the Dadeville Fire Department, Tallapoosa EMS, Tallapoosa EMA, Tallapoosa County Board of Education, LifeFlight, Haynes Air Ambulance, Dadeville Healthcare, Lake Martin Community Hospital and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency State Troopers.
Dadeville Elementary School principal Rance Kirby said the drill gave him and his team of administrators and teachers who have created a crisis team a chance to see what they could do differently if something happens.
“The crisis team is trained in CPR and blood stoppage,” Kirby said. “I was thinking during the exercise, ‘Why aren’t the EMS people in here now?’ As far as they know, there is an active shooter. I realized (EMS) would be delayed several minutes from the initial incident. The crisis team is designed to help until more help gets here. They did a great job.”
Kirby said if an event like an active shooter with multiple injuries happened on campus, students would be transported elsewhere to be reunified with parents. He said it would not be the same place every time and several places had been identified in the event of an incident.
“We wouldn’t know where we were going until we go into it,” Kirby said. “If the incident included the place we go we would need to go elsewhere. We have several options in the area to go to.”
Moran said a similar exercise will be held in June 10 in Alexander City at Benjamin Russell to help first responders train there.