EATON, Ohio (WDTN) – Preble County law enforcement prepared for the worst Friday with training for an active shooter at the local high school.
It comes just days after a deadly school shooting in Oregon and with that tragedy fresh in everyone’s minds, the crews went to the trenches to prepare.
Tactical team members that spoke with 2 NEWS said they’re hoping they’ll never have to use this training, but as shootings become more prevalent across the nation, they’re using new strategies to stop a shooter.
Students participated in the staged scenario as actors and actresses.
One actress, Elizabeth Sadai said the experience was surreal.
“There were the gunshots and it smelled like smoke and fire and the fire alarm starting going and you couldn’t hear anything and all that– your heart was pounding and your blood was racing and all you were wondering was who was going to come around the corner– was it going to be friend or foe,” said the recent Eaton High School graduate.
At least 600 students would be in class when the shooter struck and hundreds more at the neighboring middle school.
We asked one student if she felt prepared for this situation and she said, “No, probably not. I feel like it would be, I would be more comfortable if I knew like the teachers and staff had training and knew how to like handle a situation like taking down the person,” said Madeline McSwain.
McSwain’s fear is exactly why Eaton law enforcement and the school district partnered for this training.
Teachers and staff have learned new objectives, including how to barricade their classrooms and the best ways to escape on their own.
But, even with new strategies, officials told 2 NEWS it’s still tough to imagine.
“It’s very difficult. Once we hear the gunshots first go off, the Assistant Principal Stan Hughes and I took off running. Emotionally tied to it sweating, adrenaline rush, very difficult to go through,” said Principal Scott Couch.
The principal said active drills while school’s in session also prepare the district.
Eaton Police Chief Chad DePew noted that training adds another level to that preparation.
“The number one objective is to locate the gunman and make sure that he can kill no more. So obviously, it’s the safety of the students and be able to ensure their safety we have to locate the threat and neutralize the threat.”
In the scenario, officials and police secured students, although, as part of the exercise, several suffered from serious gun shot wounds
Police also told 2 NEWS a big part of finding a shooter is communicating and collaborating.
Local fire and sheriff’s departments, EMS and many more were part of the training day.