Waldo County tests emergency response to rural school shooting

Posted July 19, 2014, at 1:39 p.m.
Emergency medical staff and people portraying victims of a school shooting during an emergency drill at Mount View High School in Thorndike.
Stephen Betts | BDN
Emergency medical staff and people portraying victims of a school shooting during an emergency drill at Mount View High School in Thorndike.
Emergency medical staff watch over two people portraying victims of a school shooting during an emergency drill at Mount View High School in Thorndike.
Stephen Betts | BDN
Emergency medical staff watch over two people portraying victims of a school shooting during an emergency drill at Mount View High School in Thorndike.
Waldo County Sheriff's Office Deputy Nick Oettinger is checked on by emergency personnel Saturday morning during an emergency drill simulating a school shooting at Mount View High School in Thorndike.
Stephen Betts | BDN
Waldo County Sheriff's Office Deputy Nick Oettinger is checked on by emergency personnel Saturday morning during an emergency drill simulating a school shooting at Mount View High School in Thorndike.
Northport's emergency medical staff arrive during an emergency drill simulating a school shooting Saturday morning at Mount View High School in Thorndike.
Stephen Betts | BDN
Northport's emergency medical staff arrive during an emergency drill simulating a school shooting Saturday morning at Mount View High School in Thorndike.
A person portraying a shooting victim is dragged out of the entrance to Mount View High School in Thorndike Saturday morning during an emergency drill.
Stephen Betts | BDN
A person portraying a shooting victim is dragged out of the entrance to Mount View High School in Thorndike Saturday morning during an emergency drill.
Waldo County Sheriff's Office Sgt. James Greeley participated in the emergency drill Saturday morning simulating a school shooting at Mount View High School in Thorndike.
Stephen Betts | BDN
Waldo County Sheriff's Office Sgt. James Greeley participated in the emergency drill Saturday morning simulating a school shooting at Mount View High School in Thorndike.
The Waldo County Sheriff's Office and Maine State Police participated in the Saturday morning emergency drill that simulated a school shooting at Mount View High School in Thorndike. The state trooper pictured in the hallway is Donald Webber.
Stephen Betts | BDN
The Waldo County Sheriff's Office and Maine State Police participated in the Saturday morning emergency drill that simulated a school shooting at Mount View High School in Thorndike. The state trooper pictured in the hallway is Donald Webber.

THORNDIKE, Maine — Waldo County Emergency Management Agency Director Dale Rowley said the Saturday morning drill simulating a school shooting at Mount View High School was an important training exercise.

“We worried about how rapidly and effectively we could respond in a rural county,” Rowley said. “Every minute that goes by means a shooter can kill more people and more people are in need of help.”

The exercise, which involved emergency personnel from throughout the county, has been planned for nine months.

The school, which also includes the attached elementary and middle schools, is located 19 miles inland from Belfast.

About 100 emergency responders participated in Saturday’s event.

Officers from the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office and Maine State Police first entered the buildings as part of the drill, minutes after the report of a shooting occurred at 9 a.m. As part of the drill, Deputy Nick Oettinger was wounded in the lobby and directed other officers to where the shooters went.

Volunteers played students and staff who were shot in the mock mass casualty event.

Within 20 minutes, emergency medical staff entered the building in sections that were been determined to be safe and removed the mock victims. This process continued until the entire school was cleared.

Emergency medical crews or fire departments from Thorndike, Brooks Liberty, Northport, Belmont, Freedom, Montville, Unity, Searsport and Winterport arrived throughout the early part of the drill as police staged a command center in front of the school.

After the drill, Rowley said he was pleased with the results.

“I heard it mentioned several times today that we feel much more confident today than we did six months ago, that we can effectively respond to such a mass casualty situation,” Rowley said.

The EMA director pointed out there had been earlier table-top exercises and other training done before the full-scale exercise on Saturday.

 

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