Greenfield, Greendale and Hales Corners police storm high schools in active shooter training
Hales Corners — District teachers gathered for what seemed like a normal staff development day, until gun shots were fired in the hallway.
Teachers jumped with surprise before lowering the blinds, turning off the lights and huddling to the back of the classroom. Cries were heard from students in the hallway. Some appeared injured. Others were "deceased."
Thank goodness, it was all just a drill.
Police and fire departments from Greenfield, Greendale and Hales Corners simulated an active shooter emergency at Whitnall High School on Wednesday, Aug. 27 and at Greenfield High School the following day.
It was the first time active shooter training event in the Whitnall School District, said David Cotey, communications coordinator. Planning for the multi-agency event began in 2013.
The training was as much for police and fire departments as it was for teachers.
Greenfield Police Training Officer Robert Austin began one of the sessions by firing starter pistol blanks in Whitnall's second floor science wing. When shots were heard, police and fire personnel in the classrooms discussed escape, trauma care, strategies for staying calm and combat techniques with teachers.
Grennefield Police Sgt. Ray Radakovich said common classroom objects, like a pair of scissors, can be used as a weapon against an attacker.
"It's a real threat we have to understand. It can happen here and we have to be prepared," said Radakovich.
Students volunteered as injury victims to lay in hallways and classrooms while awaiting medical assistance.
"Our first order of business is to locate and stop the threat, but we also need a way to get EMS (emergency medical services) people into the scene and start triage as soon as possible," said Greenfield Police Chief Brad Wentlandt. Triage is the act of addressing wounds based on their degree of urgency.
Wentlandt said the Greenfield Police Department wanted to include Hales Corners and Greendale in the training because their officers and EMS personnel may be some of the first arriving units if an active shooter incident were to happen.
Teachers said it helped them to hear an actual gunshot, followed by an explanation of how to respond.
"I think everyone feels a lot safer," said an elementary school teacher who wished to remain anonymous.
Radakovich said that Whitnall's district has "two of the eastiest schools to shut down," referring to the high school and middle school, which are located across the street from each other on South 116th Street. Edgerton Elementary is also on South 116th Street, just south of the two primary schools.
"The whole street would become a safety zone," said Radakovich.
All schools in a district would lock down if there was an active shooter.
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