Safety Training Prepares Small Towns in Event of Mass Shootings

Argyle may be considered a small town by many, but there was nothing small about the training operation that hundreds of local police officers came to town for on Wednesday.

The Argyle Independent School District hosted a large-scale active shooter drill at Argyle High School with dozens of police and fire departments from across the area taking part.

The Argyle Fire Department set off explosions outside the school as actors inside were made up to look like victims of active shooters in the building.

Police used training bullets to get the mock-situation under control and then medics and other emergency workers triaged the fake injuries inside. Several medical helicopters and ground transports even took part in the drill that lasted from about 9 a.m. until noon.

Many of the participating departments were, like Argyle, from smaller communities that don't often get to take the lead in training situations like this one, and would require a lot of assistance from surrounding agencies in a mass casualty situation.

"You've got a chief from one town in command of other resources from other jurisdictions, so there's a curve there, too," said Bartonville Police Chief Corry Blount.

The Argyle ISD Police Department was spurred to host the training after responding to two unexpected disasters on campus last year.

On April 2, 2015, a training facility being built next to the high school collapsed, killing construction worker Julio Ledesma, and just a few days later another worker, Daniel Moran, was hit and killed by a truck outside of the school.

District Police Chief Paul Cairney said the situations forced the small community into a spotlight they weren't used to and they immediately began evaluating how it could have been handled better.

"Based on those things, we decided, you know what, we need to really exercise some of these things before real world things happen," said Cairney.

Denton County emergency leaders said the training went well Wednesday morning and that they planned to go through the drill moment by moment to see where the response could still improve.

Cairney hopes to hold more disaster trainings in the future to cover situations like hazmat spills and natural disasters in the small community.

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