CLAYTON — The City of Clayton Police and Fire Departments, in partnerships with the Union Police & Fire, Englewood Police & Fire and the Ohio State Patrol Special Response Team conducted a full-scale safety drill at Northmont Middle School Wednesday.
Due to the updated safety measures mandated by the state of Ohio, schools in Ohio are required to conduct these types of full-scale exercises in every building within school districts every three years.
Wednesday’s exercise will be one of three conducted in the city of Clayton in conjunction with Northmont City Schools.
The carefully planned exercise consisted of a bomb threat evacuation drill scenario and an active shooter/evacuation scenario in which Rescue Task Force teams will triage, treat and evacuate nine simulated injuries.
“We would like to thank the Northmont City Schools in partnering with us for this exercise as well as the Union Police & Fire, Englewood Police & Fire and the Ohio State Patrol,” said Jack Kuntz, Clayton public information officer.
Northmont has conducted evacuation and transportation drills at some of its other school buildings.
“This is the first time we have done one full-scale and to this level,” said Northmont Superintendent Tony Thomas. “It is one of the things you have to practice and prepare for. We are working with four different law enforcement agencies. The coordination is very important and is a major reason for this drill. As you can see by the buses in the background there are a lot of moving parts to this. We have to check out the ranges of our radios to make sure we can get buses up here on time to get people evacuated, and so far that has really gone well based on timelines we set for ourselves prior to the event. The reports I am getting back right now is that the evacuations are going well.”
During the bomb threat evacuation drill students boarded buses and were transported a short distance to the football stadium.
“When you practice for something to get better at it and that is the purpose of today,” Thomas said. “First and foremost is that we have our student safety, our faculty safety in mind and we want to make sure that we are prepared for any event that might come our way, whether that be any kind of emergency, we just need to be prepared.”
Thomas said that student involvement was key to the success of the drill.
“Every student is involved,” Thomas said. “We believe in giving students a voice here at Northmont. Actually, this emergency drill came about from something our students asked for as well as state emergency management test requirements.”
Last year students gave administrators feedback about addressing school safety based on school shooting events that had taken place elsewhere in the country. A group of students made a trip to the Ohio Statehouse and spoke to Governor Kasich and were adamant that they wanted drills that would prepare them for any type of emergency.
“It is important to them and so we are listening to our students and our stakeholders, which includes parents who also want our students to be as prepared as possible,” Thomas said. “By going through these drills and learning what we can do better, that is really our motivation.”
Premier Health volunteers taught students basic first aid. Students were also subjected to a drill to learn how to evacuate after an active shooter scenario. The bomb threat and active shooter drills included training on how to get onto a bus in an orderly manner in order to get to a safe place.
During the safety drills students had access to guidance counselors, mental health professionals and interaction with Student Resource Officers.
“We want to make sure our students are totally included in the drills, from the planning, to the execution of the exercises and the debriefing afterwards to make sure that we are hearing them, because they are the reason we are doing this,” Thomas noted.
Clayton Police Chief Matt Hamlin explained how the drill came together.
“In conjunction with Northmont City Schools, Clayton Public Safety Services along with Englewood and Union police departments we decided to do a training scenario, which is an active shooter and bomb threat scenario requiring a building evacuation,” Hamlin said. “This all due to state mandates that buildings have to be evacuated and this is a great opportunity for all our jurisdictions to get together with Northmont City Schools and practice these types of scenarios to practice with them this training. Today’s training went very well. We tried to make the scenarios as close to realistic as we could to give the staff and the students some experience on what they might experience.”
Wednesday’s drill was one of the largest Northmont City Schools has conducted so far, according to Hamlin. Next year a drill will be conducted at the high school, which will be an even bigger safety drill due to the number of students involved.
A parent conference was planned to be held after Wednesday’s safety drill so that school and police staff can address any of their concerns and answer any questions about the procedures carried out during the drill.