The Whitnall School District serves the communities of Hales Corners, Greenfield and Franklin and is comprised of Hales Corners Elementary, Edgerton Elementary, Whitnall Middle School and Whitnall High School.
This month, the Greenfield Police Department will bring together hundreds of teachers, staff members and officials from both the Greenfield and Whitnall School Districts to present training and real-world scenarios to prepare for an active shooter.
The events will culminate with large-scale exercises which will allow school personnel to apply what they have learned in a practical setting and bring together police and fire departments from Greenfield, Greendale and Hales Corners in a first-of-its-kind multi-agency and multi-discipline response.
Planning for the event began in 2013.
“We hope that a mass casualty event never happens, but we want to be prepared to work with school officials and our first responder partners if a tragedy should occur,” said Chief Brad Wentlandt of the Greenfield Police Department. “We wanted to include Hales Corners and Greendale because their officers and EMS personnel may be some of the first arriving units if an active shooter were to happen.”
School district personnel will receive basic first aid training, discuss escape and combat techniques and learn strategies for remaining calm in crisis situations. The exercises will also feature law enforcement and fire personnel working in concert to locate and evacuate the injured. This “Rescue Task Force” model pairs teams of EMS and police personnel to enter the building even before the scene is declared “safe."
“Our first order of business is to locate and stop the threat, but we also need a way to get EMS people into the scene and start triage as soon as possible,” Wentlandt said.
Chief Jon Cohn of the Greenfield Fire Department said the days of fire personnel waiting outside until the scene is completely secure are long gone. "Experience tells us that the sooner we can get to the victims and treat the, the better their chances of survival are," he said. "Training with law enforcement teams to enter the building and treat the injured improves the odds."
The schedule for the four-day training session is as follows:
● 8-10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 25 - presentation-style training in the Whitnall High School Auditorium, 5000 S. 116th St., Greenfield
● 2-3:30 p.m.Tuesday, Aug. 26 - presentation-style training in the PAC at Greenfield High School, 4800 S. 60th St.
● 7:45 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Aug. 27 - active shooter simulations at Whitnall High School
● 12:30-3:45 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28 - active shooter simulations at Greenfield High School
“It is unfortunate that we have to prepare for such tragedies in today’s world, but we believe this proactive approach can mean the difference in saving the lives of our students and staff should they ever be faced with these types of scenarios,” said Whitnall Superintendent Dr. Lowell E. Holtz.
“We regularly take several measures to ensure our schools are as safe and secure as they possibly can be,” said Lisa Elliott, Superintendent of the School District of Greenfield. “That said, we’re grateful the Greenfield Police and Fire Departments, and those neighboring municipalities, are bringing this level of training to our schools should we ever need it.