City proves it can handle the worst

Law enforcement apprehended shooters on Florida A&M’s campus while Leon Emergency Medical Services rushed students with life-threatening wounds to local hospitals Monday during Operation School Safety.

Makeup and other props were used to assure the North Florida Regional Domestic Security Task Force and FAMU carried out a realistic, full-scale mock school shooting exercise.

In an effort to strengthen response time during emergencies, more than 100 people participated in the mock exercise, including law enforcement, local volunteers and students from FAMU’s theatre department.

The operation included a negotiating team that settled conflict through negotiation, a sniper team that responded from a distance by shooting the individual to stop the crime and an entry team, which is used as the last resort and goes into the specified area to resolve conflict.

“A large scale event like this takes a lot of man power,” said David McCranie, a public information officer from the Tallahassee Police Department.

McCranie said everybody would learn valuable lessons through the extensive Operation School Safety exercise.

He explained that through the process, the task force is able to pick out the smallest imperfection to improve response time.

“A mistake we make could cost someone’s life,” he said. “The result of (this effort) is lives saved.”

Because TPD is working toward a faster response time, it is now training patrol officers for extreme emergencies, McCranie said.

Operation School Safety allowed hands-on training for TPD, Tallahassee Fire and Rescue, Leon County EMS and FAMU Police Department officers in case of an emergency.

The exercise also allowed FAMU to test its notification center, e2Campus alert, which is the first system used to send messages to the campus community in case of an emergency.

“The (alert) system really came in handy because I had no idea what was going on,” said Kelvin Williams, 19.

The sophomore architecture student from Miami said the drill was necessary and relevant to today’s events.

“You can’t determine a time frame in how fast TPD should have put this in effect,” he said, “just as long as it is getting done.”

Williams said it would have been helpful if FAMU had publicized the drill so students would actually know what was going on.

Because of the exercise, it was hard for some students to find parking.

Ashley Jamison, 21, a junior nursing student from Miami, said she could not find a parking spot on the entire campus.

“I saw a bunch of police cars and ambulances but no parking spaces,” she said.

Although Jamison was not late to class, she said the drill would have been worth being late.

Chris Rietow, the regional domestic security task force planner, was pleased with the corporation from students and community during Monday’s exercise.

“The main priority (was that) students didn’t disrupt, especially since we took all of their parking,” Rietow said. ” But the students made it very easy for us.”

The Federal Department of Homeland Security established seven regions in Florida, which includes 13 counties, Rietow said.

But the North Florida Region is the only to receive funding to do a full-scale exercise.

“With this training, hospitals in conjunction with our teams were able to test emergency capabilities,” Rietow said. “It was a success.”

In addition to FAMU, Cobb Middle School also participated in a similar exercise in which a little more than 125 people participated, Rietow added.