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.