School shooting drill planned at RHS |

School shooting drill planned at RHS

Area emergency services will be out in force on Tuesday, July 29, as a mass casualty crisis drill takes place at Rifle High School.

Between 12:30 p.m. until approximately 4:30 p.m., access to the school and some of the surrounding area may be restricted during this drill, and emergency response vehicles will be at the school throughout the drill. The drill scenario will simulate an armed intruder entering the school during lunch and will test the response of hospital, law enforcement, emergency services, the school and Garfield School District Re-2.

The simulated crisis was organized by Lynda McFarland, Grand River Health’s emergency preparedness, disaster manager, and education coordinator, with assistance and input from Rifle and Silt Police, Garfield County Sheriff, Colorado River Fire Rescue, Grand Valley Fire Protection District, Careflight, TransCare EMS, Garfield County Emergency Communications, the school district, Rifle High School, Valley View and St. Mary’s hospitals and MindSpring.

“Drills like these are critical in helping communities prepare their first responders in case of an emergency,” said Jim Coombs, CEO of Grand River Health. “We all hope a crisis like this never happens here, but it could. Working together in advance in these types of practice scenarios helps us identify best practices for the best possible outcomes, should the unthinkable happen.”

Approximately 50 students, several high school staff members and parents will be participating in the drill, along with district administration staff.

“We hope we never have to go through an event like this,” said Re-2 Superintendent Dr. Susan Birdsey. “Drills like these are a great way to test our systems, our practices and our procedures and get a better understanding of operations during a real crisis. This kind of practice helps make us better and more aware. It also helps us further develop our relationships with our emergency service agencies.”

Scenarios such as this give local emergency services experience working their incident command systems, and gaining first hand knowledge of school facilities and staff.

“It is important to run simulations such as this,” said Rifle Police Chief John Dyer. “It helps us understand how the school systems work, who the key people are and how we can work together to improve general school safety and our emergency response in the case of a crisis. It is a drill we never want to act out in real life, but it is an opportunity to learn and get better as organizations and as a community.”

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