As a volunteer observer to Friday morning’s active-shooter drill at Seymour High School, Cassie Foster paid close attention to the scene unfolding before her.

Students ran out of Bulleit Stadium screaming.

Some weren’t even able to make it to the parking lot, collapsing right outside the doors or near the gate.

Others fled and ducked behind vehicles, trying to stay out of harm’s way.

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In a staged event, two gunmen had opened fire in a locker room in the stadium, shooting at students and staff. If the situation were real, there would have been severe injuries and likely fatalities, officials said.

Standing along the fence around the stadium, Foster and other volunteers watched the scenario play out.

“It’s scary to even think that something like this could happen,” said Foster, who works for Child Care Network’s Kids Klub program in Seymour.

Within two-and-a-half minutes of receiving a call from the school about the shooting, six Seymour police officers arrived on the scene to assess the situation, Capt. Carl Lamb said.

Less than five minutes later, 11 more officers were deployed to control the scene, converging in the school parking lot with ambulance medics and firefighters, he added.

A total of 23 officers took part in the drill, representing Seymour, Brownstown and the Indiana State police.

Armed with rifles and wearing protective gear, the officers secured the stadium and surrounding school property. In the end, they would have arrested or shot the two suspects, who were played by police officers, Lamb said.

Eight people were taken by Jackson County Emergency Medical Services to Schneck Medical Center to be treated for injuries, said Julie Idlewine, marketing specialist at Schneck.

Idlewine said the hospi-tal activated its instant command center to respond to the shooting and would not release patient names or information unless the patients gave consent.

Both the school and hospital remained on lockdown throughout the drill.

In the event of a real emergency, parents would have been directed to pick up their children at a safe location after presenting identification, officials said.

The active shooters weren’t real, but the response and what emergency and school personnel learned from the drill were, said Duane Davis, director of Jackson County Emergency Management Agency.

He and others spent six months planning the large-scale exercise in an effort to help all those who would be involved in such a situation practice how they would handle it.

“This is something new for us,” Davis said. “We’ve done a tabletop exercise in the past with the schools, where we talked about scenarios, but nothing like this.”

Foster said she appreciated the work that went into staging the event.

“It’s nice to see them practicing this,” she said. “I’m not sure we practice enough for these kind of things.”

Both Davis and Tal-madge Reasoner, assistant principal at Seymour High School, said they wished they didn’t have to.

“It’s sad, but it’s the world we live in,” Reasoner said. “That being said, we do everything we can to prevent it and protect our kids.”

The situation lasted about two hours and included a news conference afterward. Several people who participated served as control evaluators to take notes of what worked and what didn’t.

Davis said there were a lot of objectives to the drill and that each participating agency will evaluate what took place and how people responded.

“This is not to find fault but to learn where we can improve, so we can plan for the future,” Davis said.

Shannon Mount with Jackson County EMS said the exercise allowed the agencies to work on communications, command, patient triage and interaction among the departments.

“It shows us where we might need more training with the police to better understand their response and how we react,” Mount said.

Some of the issues that came up during the drill included where emergency vehicles would be staged around the school, how to handle crowd control and how to deal with people posting unconfirmed information about the situation on social media.

“These are all things we’ll be taking a look at and discussing,” Davis said. “There’s always room for improvement.”

Reasoner said the drill provided a chance for school staff to review emergency policies and procedures and put them into action.

He planned to watch footage from security cameras to get a better idea of what took place to come up with questions for staff that could lead to revisions to the school’s active shooter plans.

“I want to see if we can find ways to be more efficient and effective in keeping our students and staff safe,” he said. “These are good things to practice because it’s the same type of things you would do if you were out in public, at a mall or an amusement park and this happened.”

Although there’s no way to prepare for every aspect of a situation, Reasoner said, he is confident of his staff’s ability to react and make the best decisions.

He said the exercise also gave him a greater respect for emergency responders.

“I’m really excited about being able to coordinate with these guys,” Reasoner said. “We have top-notch first responders, and we’re thankful for that.”

Pull Quote

“It’s sad, but it’s the world we live in. That being said, we do everything we can to prevent it and protect our kids.”

Talmadge Reasoner, assistant principal at Seymour High School, on an active-shooter drill

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.