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460 learn how to save lives in Fayette County schools

| Saturday, March 2, 2013, 1:41 a.m.
Trooper Stefani Plume, community services / public information officer for the Pennsylvania State Police at Uniontown, speaks with media after Pennsylvania State Police along with the Fayette County Tactical EMS Response Team conducted a drill re-enacting a school shooting scenario at Laurel Highlands Middle School on Friday, March 1, 2013. Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier

Law enforcement agencies in Fayette County took part in an active-shooting scenario at the Laurel Highlands Middle School to better prepare them and the school district if the unthinkable would happen.

“It went really well,” said Trooper Stefani Plume, community services/public information officer with the state police at Uniontown. “I'm very pleased.”

The scenario, said Plume, consisted of two different training exercises played out for the trainees of having a shooter in the school.

Police who enter the school must quickly determine who is the shooter and then take action.

The scenes took place in the school's hallways, gym and auditorium — beneficial for those participating because shooters usually go where there's a larger gathering of people, she said.

During the scenario, blanks were shot while scary music played over the school's intercom.

Plume said the music was used as a diversion to cause confusion.

Plume said she initially expected about 40 people from different agencies to participate in the scenario, but she was surprised when 60 showed up.

Because Laurel Highland School District held an in-service day on Friday, the school was clear of students, About 400 district employees participated in the scenario — acting as victims, bystanders and hostages.

“It's good to get everyone together and working together,” Plume said.

Following the two-hour-plus scenario, the police departments were debriefed and discussed what was learned; what they could have done differently; and how to be better prepared if such an incident would take place.

“We want the public to know it's a constant process,” Plume said of the training scenarios not only in schools but other buildings. “It's an excellent training experience.”

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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