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Red Bay officials conduct school safety drills

With school safety being a major issue on many people’s minds, the Red Bay Police Department coordinated a multi-agency emergency drill at Red Bay High School on Monday to make sure they were prepared for several different emergency scenarios.

Red Bay Police Chief Janna Jackson said the goal of the drill was to make sure all the agencies that would be involved in a school safety situation were on the same page and able to work together to bring about a peaceful resolution.

“The police department is involved in training year-round, but if there was a serious situation at the school involving a gunman or something else of that magnitude, there would be many other agencies involved,” Jackson said.

“It only makes sense for us to all come together for training that would help us be better prepared. Of course you can never be fully prepared for a crisis like that, but training is the best way to be the most prepared we can be.

“If a situation like this were to ever happen, that would not be the time for us to be working through any problems in communication or execution that we might have.”

Lt. Scottie Belue said in addition to the RBPD, Red Bay Fire Department, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin County Special Response Team, Russellville Police Department, Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Transcare Ambulance Service, Red Bay Hospital, Mississippi law enforcement officers, Red Bay High School officials and student volunteers all participated in Monday’s drill.

“We tried to make the scenario as realistic as possible,” Belue said.

“The initial scenario was that a call came in to the police department of shots being fired at Red Bay School. Then more calls started coming in to dispatch about injuries and people describing the suspect as a male wearing black clothing and carrying a long gun.”

Belue said all the appropriate agencies responded to the school just as if the scenario was actually happening.

“On the way to the school, law enforcement and emergency crews received intel that there were two shooters instead of one,” he said.

“When officers arrived on the scene, the first shooter was taken out but the second shooter had barricaded himself inside a classroom and had taken hostages, who were played by students who volunteered for the drill.”

Belue said in a situation like that, the Franklin County Special Response Team (SRT) and the crisis/hostage negotiators would be dispatched to take the lead in what happened next.

“The hostage negotiators worked with the gunman for some time before he was finally able to be persuaded to come out without any further injuries.”

Belue said all the students who were deemed to be “injured” during the scenario were transported by ambulance to the Red Bay Hospital where they took in victims and worked on their own plans if a situation like that were to occur.

“I think everything went very well,” Jackson said.

“All the agencies gathered after the scenario was complete to discuss the things that we could work on and what we might could do differently in the future, and I think we learned a lot from this drill.”