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Mock Shooter Drill Tests College Preparedness

Its 10:30 am on a beautiful September morning at West Kentucky Community and Technical College when the quiet of the morning is broken by the sound of gunfire and screaming. A call goes out that there are three people shot and at least two people with guns on the campus. From a distance, two students can be seen on the ground, with what looks like injuries. Its a frightening scenario, even if it was only make-believe.

More than 50 law enforcement, first responders and emergency services personnel teamed up Wednesday for the first mock shooter exercise to be held at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, with a scenario of deadly shootings on the campus. Three WKCTC students were sitting on the benches outside Rosenthal Hall Wednesday when a mock shooting exercise began just outside the building. One of the mock shooters, a Paducah Police Department officer, gave the students permission to observe the drill. But once the S.W.A.T. arrived, the young men were told to immediately get face down on the ground, and to put their hands behind their heads; they nervously complied.

This really made us stop and think. My hands are still shaking, said 18-year-old WKCTC student David Clymer of Paducah after the drill was over. Jackson Ervin, 19, of Ballard County, said the drill was a great experience and everyone involved took it seriously. You can never be fully prepared but this was well performed and practiced. Fellow student Zack Carroll,18, agreed. This is a good way to make us aware of a situation like this. I can tell you that! he said.

About a dozen people volunteered for the drill, playing the roles of injured and alarmed students. The exercise involved two individuals from the Paducah Police Department shooting weapons with blanks that resulted in one fake fatality and five fake wounded individuals. The campus was locked down as local law enforcement searched Rosenthal Hall before the two fake shooters were secured and the exercise ended.

Steve Orazine, director of security, spent more than three months planning the exercise and was pleased with the colleges first mock drill. I thought it went real well. It was a learning experience, because number one Im not used to these drills and we really learned a lot about what works and what we need to do different, he said. Now we can get together and discuss what we did right and what we did wrong, Orazine said. This is just the first step.

WKCTC student Amanda Embry was in the computer lab on the second floor of Rosenthal Hall when the shooting started. Much of the shooting and commotion took place just outside the computer lab, Embry said. It was startling and we all huddled under tables and desks until the drill was over. As much as possible, this helped us prepare for a real emergency, she said.

John Carrico, vice president of administrative services, said the college will evaluate how the exercise went and make recommendations for improvement to the colleges crisis management team. He praised the cooperation of law enforcement and emergency personal and the work of the colleges director of security for making the drill a success. You can always pick up new things that work, Carrico said. Thats why you do drills like this.