Last week, USD 373 school district employees, first responders and government employees participated in a special Mass Casualty Incident training session. The event took place Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at Chisholm Middle School while school was not in session. The goal of the event was to help prepare all of the organizations for a mass-casualty event.

“These are the type of events that everyone hopes never occur,” said USD 373 superintendent Deb Hamm. “After Columbine, teachers and students have felt less safe. As events occur in our community and beyond, we understand the need to be as prepared as possible to deal with tragedy. This training provided an exceptional opportunity for us to test some protocols and get ideas from our staff to improve our systems.”

In the morning, there was instructional time as well as time to collaborate and share feedback on the organizations’ responses to mass-casualty incidents. The afternoon was made up of an active threat drill, which simulated an active threat in the school. First responders were tasked with reacting to the threat in a real-world environment. The simulation included actors, adding an extra element to the training. First responders were able to practice working with injured and non-injured civilians in the building.

“This provided a fantastic opportunity to put our policies and procedures to a test,” said Newton Fire and EMS Chief Steve Roberson. “To have the opportunity to do that, along with several of our local partners, is fantastic. This couldn't have happened here without the support of USD 373, Harvey County Emergency Management, Harvey County Communications, Newton Police Department and Newton Fire/EMS."

The training was led by Wiland Associates and funded through the South Central Region of the Department of Homeland Security.