School security expert: Huge Butler County school active shooter drill will teach ‘many moving parts’

Concerns about armed attacks on local schools has prompted the scheduling of a first-time active shooter drill involving participants from every school system in Butler County.

The upcoming SWAT, police, fire and EMS drill will take place at the Ross high school and middle school campus and also will involve nearly 200 adults and students.

The unique event is a move in the right direction, said a national school security expert.

According to officials at the Butler County Educational Services Center, the four-hour exercise June 18 on the rural school campus will “simulate an active shooter at a board meeting while numerous activities are occurring throughout the campus, including sporting events, conferences, and athletic practices.”

According to Katharine Clayton, director of public school safety for the BCESC, “this will be a complex, coordinated event that will include multiple first responders, community partners, county and state agencies in addition to the participating school districts.”

Clayton said the purpose of the full-scale safety exercise is to provide a hands-on or physical test to evaluate a school district’s emergency operations plan and the district’s emergency preparedness in handling the type of event.

Participating school districts are: Ross, Lakota, Middletown, Hamilton, Monroe, Madison, Talawanda, Edgewood, New Miami, Fairfield and Butler Tech.

In the fall, five of the districts — Hamilton, New Miami, Edgewood, Fairfield and Monroe — were among the first in Ohio to join together to ask voters for school security tax hike but the issue was defeated at the polls.

“This will offer participating school districts a unique perspective,” Clayton said.

National school security expert Ken Trump said creation of a joint active shooter drill is a smart way to prepare school districts.

“Full-scale exercises where school officials are part of a comprehensive, communitywide exercise can be very helpful to school officials to understand the many moving parts and many players who come together in a real emergency situation,” said Trump, who is president of the National School Safety and Security Services based in Cleveland.

“Emergency preparedness and response are very complex in the dynamics and the players, and a full-scale exercise can help school officials see and understand their roles, and the roles and expectations of other first responders and community partners, should an emergency widescale emergency occur.

“Properly designed full-scale exercises are not only helpful to school officials to learn about how their community partners will respond, but are also helpful for first responders to learn about school needs and typical responses and under stressful circumstances.”

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