"Now that we are back from spring break, last Wednesday's exercise is the talk of the school," said Boardman High School Principal Tim Saxton. "Everyone here feels more confident now after they saw some of the security measures we have in place."
Last week's program took hundreds to pull off. There were 15 staff members and 150 students joining in with local police, fire, ambulance and FBI agents. The FBI was filming the entire hour-and-a-half exercise for later training and reflections.
According to Boardman Police Capt. Don Hawkins, the scenario included the Boardman dispatchers who were working off two cell phones so as not to overload the real 9-1-1 call center. It started with a few citizens calling dispatch around 9 a.m. to report a shooter at the high school.
Prior to the call going out, all the actors were put in place with only a handful knowing what the scenario was going to be. Even Superintendent Frank Lazzeri was involved, but from the aspect of a normal day.
"I was asked where I would be on a normal school day," he said. "I told them I am usually at the board office at BCMS. They told me that is where I needed to be on Wednesday."
Inside, students were placed in normal classroom settings, except for a few from the Boardman Performing Arts Center. Four of the performers were outfitted in a jumpsuit that simulated bleeding. It gave emergency responders a chance to hone skills at issuing first responder medical care.
Event planners also threw in a last-minute problem. They approached Saxton and told him he was going to be a casualty.
"They shot me early in the drill," he said. "Assistant principals Jared Cardillo and Dave Kornbau had to assume command when I went down. It was a good thing to help us better understand each other's role in a crisis situation."
An hour-and-a-half into the exercise, the situation was under control with one dead, four injured, one bad guy dead and a female partner in custody.
Following a break, school official, police, fire and ambulance crews got together to review the morning and address any flaws in the handling of the staged exercise.
"There was a large group of FBI agents involved," said Hawkins. "Most of them were observing or filming the incident. One FBI agent was involved with the Chardon shooting."
Saxton said he got good feedback on the exercise. He said the kids involved enjoyed helping out and they took the event very seriously.
While everything came down as it was supposed to, there was one injury. Saxton said Center Middle School teacher Jesse McClain played the part of a worried parent who got into the school. While in his role, he suffered a fall and ended up with a broken hip and shoulder. Plans were in place for such a situation and the call went out for emergency medical "real world" and McClain had immediate attention.
McClain was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery late last week.
"I heard he had to have a plate put in his hip, but he is recovering from a nasty fall," Saxton said.