At some point in time, the question crosses the mind of school officials across the United States.

What would they do if a shooting occurred on their campus?

That’s one question Bray-Doyle Superintendent Kevin McKinley had been asking.

With no intercom system connecting the elementary, intermediate and high school, which are all situated on one campus, what would they do?

In an effort to learn part of the answer to that question, a lockdown-assault drill was held Tuesday afternoon after school let out.

With the help of the Stephens County Sheriff’s Department, McKinley was able to see how his staff would react and what problems needed to be addressed when shots were fired.

It also offered the opportunity for law enforcement officers to see what type of response time they would be working with in case of an actual situation.

Six shots were fired in all, and with the reverberations from the buildings, it was almost impossible to tell what direction they might be coming from, creating a realistic element under the practice drill cloak.

“I wanted to make it as realistic as we could without involving students, because I want to see a real response from my people,” McKinley said.

Teachers and staff were aware of the drill and what it involved. They were put in a scenario where the shooting would happen at 8:30 a.m. — a time when the buses have usually gone and classes have begun, McKinley said.

But the knowledge didn’t negate any nervousness some of them felt at the situation.

“We knew it was going to happen,” teacher EraQuidon Thames said. “It still makes your stomach turn upside down.”

She was outside when the first blank shots were fired, on her way to check her mailbox, thinking she still had some time.

Thames said she turned around and went right back into the building she came from after hearing the shots, and while she knew the drill was going to happen, it didn’t take away any feelings of fright.

“It still scared the fire out of me,” she said.

Adding to the element of “faked” reality were the phone calls from some parents who heard the dispatch call through police scanners but missed the following announcement that it was just a drill.

Lockdown drills are required by law and schools must complete at least one every school year. Students don’t have to be involved in the drills.

The choice to leave students out of drills takes out a certain dynamic of preparation and reaction, but some concerns outweighed including students.

“I can imagine that for some of the younger kids it’d be traumatic,” McKinley said. “It’d be scary for them. I have teachers that are scared.”

And though the experience might have produced some anxious feelings, it is one that is necessary.

“The more we do something like this, the more organized and less chaotic it will be,” McKinley said.

Officer Rodney Richards, the “shooter” in the scenario, agreed with McKinley and told teachers and staff to also consider what to do if the student element were present.

“There is no perfect science to handling these types of situations,” Richards said. “The one factor you can’t practice is putting the kids back into the situation.”

Staying calm and following protocol is key to coming out of an incident as safe as possible, he noted.

Despite some kinks, the drill was successful.

Its goal, after all, was to find out where the problems might be so that officials could take action in addressing those issues, McKinley said.

“I thought it went very well for the first time. Preparation is key,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll never have to really go through something like this.”

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