Reynoldsburg News

First-responders will converge on school May 2

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Summit Road between Firstgate Drive and Lakeland Drive will be closed to traffic between noon and 5 p.m. Friday, May 2, while local police and fire departments conduct an emergency-response exercise at Reynoldsburg High School's Summit campus.

"Our No. 1 goal is to teach the students the will to survive if a critical event ever takes place at the high school," Reynoldsburg police Lt. Ron Wright said. "It will also give them confidence in the first-responders by seeing how we respond and through close contact with the officers, firefighters and school staff."

He said police want to give nearby residents a heads-up about the wailing sirens and multiple fire trucks, police officers and bomb squads they are likely to see and hear Friday afternoon at the school, 8579 Summit Road.

Wright said role-players will create a "mass casualty" effect at the school, "giving multiple agencies a set of stimuli to work through in a controlled environment."

Participating agencies include the Reynoldsburg Police Department, the Truro Township and West Licking fire departments and the Franklin County Bomb Squad.

"Training with other agencies gives us the opportunity to work out any operational planning should a real event occur," Wright said. "It also allows us to alter our planning to improve efficiency while observing and exercising the capabilities of each responding agency."

Wright said school administrators and staff also will participate.

"This particular exercise gives us the chance to work in a cooperative effort with school administrators and staff -- something we have never done in the past," he said. "Having all the students present is a plus as well, since the first-responders will be faced with safely moving a mass number of people."

He said unlike lockdown or evacuation drills conducted by school personnel, the exercise will give school staff members a chance to practice emergency responses with city safety forces.

"The school staff will not only help us with the safety of running the exercise, but will participate in the scenario by acting out their emergency response as well," he said. "Only this time, they can follow through with their safety plan with first-responders present."

Tricia Moore, communications director for Reynoldsburg City Schools, said in a press release that the district wants to "continuously enhance the safety of local school buildings."

She said Reynoldsburg police and the Truro Township and West Licking fire departments have helped the district create a new emergency operations plan that covers a variety of emergency services.

"The afternoon's activities include a controlled detonation by the Franklin County Bomb Squad behind the high school campus; emergency vehicles of various kinds arriving with accompanying lights and sirens (but at speeds of 15 mph or less) and a MedFlight helicopter landing at the school, plus evacuation of students and staff," Moore wrote in the release.

Wright said the May 2 event will be a first in the city, but "if successful, we are looking to convert this into an annual exercise."

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