Gwinnett County, GA - With the latest school shooting in Oregon fresh on their minds, members of the Gwinnett Police and Fire Departments are spending the summer training for active shooter situations at Mill Creek High School.
WSB’s Sandra Parrish was among members of the media given a bird’s eye view of those drills.
“The main idea behind this training is an emphasis on speed,” says Gwinnett Police Cpl. Jake Smith.
He says since the Columbine High School shootings police around the country are changing the way they handle active shooters attempting to take down the suspect as quickly as possible.
“In active shooter situations throughout the country the most fatalities, the most injures caused by the active shooter occur within the first few minutes of the incident,” says Smith. “So, it’s absolutely essential for law enforcement to get in there and stop that threat whether by taking out the bad guy or drawing attention to themselves.”
Another change Gwinnet County is making since the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School is to have paramedics accompany officers into an active shooting scene. Firefighters will soon be given bullet proof vests to wear in such situations.
“They’re able to go in to gain access to patients who otherwise would have to wait for a period of time, maybe even 45 minutes to an hour or more, for a building to be cleared… for law enforcement to allow us in,” he says.
Sloan Roach, spokesperson for Gwinnett Schools, says it’s just one more tool to keep students safe.
“We have a lot of things in place, but this kind of drill where you actually are going through some of this is very good training for all of us,” she says.
Roach says the school system’s own police force will go through the training as well.
Volunteers are being recruited to help serve as the victims in the real life scenarios. Lauren Elliot, an upcoming senior at Archer High, is among them.
“It makes you realize that this is actually a possibility and it kind of makes you a little nervous that it can actually happen… just thinking of what you would do if it was a real situation,” she says.