UNION, Miss. (WTOK) - School shootings. They're terrifying to students, faculty, parents and the community, and unfortunately, have become all too common. Because of that, a local school district and area first responders are doing their part to prepare for an active shooter emergency.
"We tried to make it as real as possible, and include everything as real as possible," says Union Police Chief Billy Pat Walker.
The number of school shootings in 2018 is alarming. According to EveryTownResearch.org, 69 school shootings have already been reported this year. In 2017, there were a total of 65 school shootings.
Union Public Schools Superintendent Tyler Hansford says districts across the country are taking the necessary steps to stay prepared. Hansford says he knows school shootings can happen anywhere and at any time.
"We never want to be caught in the mindset of 'it'll never happen here' because that sets you up to be in some real danger," says Hansford. "So what we're looking for is being proactive rather than reactive and making sure we're prepared in case the unthinkable does happen."
Step by step, first responders learned how to evacuate students and transport them to safety. One educator told us the active shooter drill sounded like a 'war zone'.
"I was surprised by all the sounds. I did not realize it would be as loud as it was. We heard gunshots come down from our band hall area and then I heard the running in the hall and the auditory part of it kind of surprised me. And then when they had to come in my classroom because I had been labeled dead. It's kind of frightening to see three armed fellows come in," says teacher Mandy Feasel.
First responders say the drill wasn't perfect, but tell us they're better prepared to handle an active shooter situation
"So we can never guarantee absolute safety, but what we can do is be prepared as best we can for the worst that may happen. So we want parents to know, community members to know, that we're going through every avenue we can to try to ensure that safety and that includes practice," says Hansford.
Multiple agencies participated in Wednesday’s drill, including the Union police and fire Departments, and the Newton County Sheriff’s Department.