Mass casualties to be staged Monday in Amherst Steele intruder exercise

Don’t panic — drill will test response to school violence

By Jason Hawk -

Imagine the unthinkable were to happen — a crazed gunman inside Steele High, squeezing off rounds at our children.

Would we be prepared?

We’ll find out Monday when a violent intruder drill is staged at the Washington Street high school from 7-11 a.m.

Actors (teachers and staff) will role play as victims, some outfitted with costume injuries. The wounded will be “evacuated” to local hospitals for treatment.

No students will be involved; the event will take place during an in-service day as the culmination of months of training in emergency management plans.

Amherst police will respond to the building, as will firefighters, LifeCare Ambulance, the Emergency Management Agency, Lorain County sheriff’s deputies, the county SWAT team, bomb squad, South Amherst and Elyria police, and city utilities crews.

The drill will also test Metro Life Flight, University Hospitals, and Mercy Regional Medical Center’s abilities to handle a mass casualty situation.

“The intent is for the schools and responding organizations to work together in planning for the drill by opening lines of communication, sharing ideas and experiences, identifying capabilities and limitations, agreeing on roles and responsibilities, and determining training goals and expectations,” police said in a statement issued Monday.

Washington Street will be closed during the drill from Cleveland Avenue to Sunrise Drive. Only local traffic will be permitted.

“Area residents should expect to see a large amount of police, fire, and ambulance vehicles and personnel, including SWAT and Life Flight, responding to the area. Area residents may also see school personnel moving quickly from the building for safety,” police said.

Amherst Schools superintendent said district personnel have been working with police for about a year to arrange the drill.

The News-Times will also be on the scene to cover the mock crisis and analyze it from our viewpoint.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

Don’t panic — drill will test response to school violence

By Jason Hawk