Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, Laurens Police Dept., Clinton Dept. of Public Safety, SLED, SC Dept. of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, SC Dept. of Natural Resources, Hickory Tavern Fire Dept. and Laurens County EMS took part in the exercise.
The LCSO also received assistance from two individuals that were first responders at the shooting at Townville Elementary School in 2016.
District 55 held the event to test the school’s ability to respond to an active shooter situation. All Hickory Tavern staff and teachers were a part of the exercise and afterwards participated in a debriefing with law enforcement and administration.
The drill was beneficial to the staff at Hickory Tavern School as well as local law enforcement. It ensured that school personnel and local agencies are equipped to respond to this type of situation in the most efficient and appropriate manner if such an event were to occur.
“As an educator, safety must be first,” said Tina Faulkner, principal at Hickory Tavern School. “Anywhere we go, any time we go. I want to keep our youth safe and then I want to educate them.”
The exercise started with two active shooters entering the building through a gate between the elementary and middle school. As the shooters made their way through the building, school personnel reacted as if it were a real situation.
A few minutes after the first shot was fired, local law enforcement made entry in the building. After searching the building, they neutralized one active shooter and shot and killed the second shooter.
Law enforcement then searched the building, room by room, for other shooters, explosive devices, school staff and students. Personnel inside the building were escorted out and taken to triage.
Once the exercise was complete, all involved moved to the gymnasium for a debriefing.
“We’ve been working about a year on safety procedures,” said Faulkner. “This showed us the gaps that we have in our training. The small things that I did not realize matter. Things like keys and names with room numbers. The little things are so important.”