A Frontier High School staff member was injured in an active shooter training event earlier this fall, prompting the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to make some changes to its protocol, the agency’s chief deputy said.
But the school district will continue with the A.L.I.C.E. active shooter program and supports it 100%, Frontier Superintendent Beth Brown said.
The September training was intended to prepare staff and students for what to do if there is an armed gunman at the school, sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mark Warden said.
After multiple days of preparation, the drill includes an actual gun being fired with blanks, he said.
“There’s a lot of protocols that go into that for safety,” Warden said, including a site safety officer who ensures there are no live rounds involved in the training.
The hallways are clear, students are in classrooms and the gun is not pointed at anyone, Warden said. But a staff member came around a corner just as a shot was being fired, he said.
“The timing was horrible,” Warden said. “It was an unfortunate incident.”
The individual was injured by sawdust that discharged from the weapon, Warden said. Ambulances were on scene for the training, and the staff member was treated there, he said.
“We changed a couple things in our protocol and our training” as a result of the incident, Warden said.
Real guns are used with blanks so students and school personnel will recognize the sound of a gun firing should a shooting incident occur, Warden said.
“The purpose is not to scare anybody,” he said. “I want you to understand what that sounds like.”
Students and teachers are then debriefed after the training, Warden said.
Brown said the program is beneficial and students carry the knowledge with them from the school. A student who graduated reported knowing what to do when many other students didn’t as an incident unfolded at their college, she said.
“Then you’re not in a panic of ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t know what to do,’” she said.
Brown described the September incident as “a timing accident.”
“Everything was fine, and we will continue to have” the trainings, she said.
A.L.I.C.E. — which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate — is an active shooter response process taught at many schools.