PIQUA — Faculty and staff at Piqua Central Intermediate School (PCIS) got to hear what gunshots in a school might sound like after the Piqua Police Department used a starter pistol to simulate the sound during a safety drill held Monday afternoon.
Monday’s safety drill was only for faculty and staff as it took place after classes were over and no students were present. It was also PCIS’s last of four safety drills held at each of Piqua schools in addition to their monthly fire drills and seasonal tornado drills, highlighting the safety-conscious attitude of Piqua schools as well their partnership with the Piqua Police Department.
“It’s a good opportunity for the school partnership with the police department to stay on top of things,” Principal Josh Kauffman said, noting that these drills allowed them to be proactive.
“It’s great because we can answer questions back and forth,” Deputy Chief Jason Preston of the Piqua Police Department said. “It kind of gets everybody on the same page.”
This latest safety drill was a theoretical safety drill. Instead of a typical lockdown drill or rapid evacuation drill, this theoretical safety drill presented the approximately 40 faculty and staff members with a situation and they had to decide how to respond based on past instructions and the information they had available.
“We’re going to give you a scenario,” Preston said. Preston explained that their response was their judgment of the situation. In a real-life scenario, they may not be responding to an announcement over the PA system as they may be the first to see a potential shooter or dangerous person in the school. They also may be responding to the sounds of gunshots themselves.
“In a real world situation … you may be the first person to see someone,” Preston said. “It’s not always going to be an announcement.” With the situation of hearing gunshots in the school, Preston added later, “If you hear something, that’s when you can say, what am I going to do next.”
For this drill, Kauffman had the faculty and staff go to where they had been earlier that day at 2 p.m. Kauffman then announced over the PA system that there was an active shooter in the school while Preston walked around the academic wing firing empty rounds with the starter pistol to simulate the sounds of gunshots in the school. This prompted some teachers to evacuate the building with their pretend classrooms while others barricaded themselves in their rooms.
After the drill, they reconvened where the faculty and staff could ask Preston and Kauffman questions.
One teacher asked the question about what to do with a student in a wheelchair since that student would not be able to evacuate in a stairwell. The teacher asked if one teacher should stay with the student in a wheelchair in the classroom while another teacher evacuated with the other students. Preston said that was a possibility if there were two teachers. If there was only one teacher present, though, then the class might have to barricade themselves in the room rather than evacuate.
Preston also discussed how the gunshots may not sound exactly what one would expect it to sound like in a school. Preston said that he has heard it described as a chair falling from far away. He also noted that people in past real-life school shooter situations have said, “I heard something weird,” and they did not identify it as a gunshot until after they knew it was a gun.
“If you hear something, it might be something different,” Preston said.
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