GLENN HEIGHTS – Communication, cooperation and organization made Friday’s mock disaster drill a success at Shields Elementary School, a Red Oak ISD campus.

“What you are going to witness today is going to be a tornado. This was planned eight months ago so it has nothing to do with all of the recent tornadoes in Alabama and Tennessee. There will be approximately 50 ‘injured’ staff and students,” Red Oak ISD Police Chief Scott Lindsey said in describing the scenario first responders would work through in the training exercise.

ROISD held its first mock disaster drill in 2001 at one of its smallest schools, with a second drill held at a larger elementary school in 2006.

“We have come up to our larger elementary school this year,” he said, noting that the district plans mock disaster training events at the junior and high school campuses in the next several years.

“We have probably over 100 emergency responders coming. This is going to be a good test for our system because we have a lot of different specialty operations and units taking part,” Red Oak Fire Chief Eric Thompson said before the mock disaster drill got under way.

“We talk about doing these responses all the time with preparation and training. This not only pays off when a big disaster hits but in every day operations,” said Thompson, giving credit to Lindsey, his staff and ROISD for hosting the training event.

“We were here to support the Red Oak school district on their disaster drill here at their elementary school. As with any drill, there are things that we have identified,” Midlothian Deputy Fire Chief Dale McCaskill said once the event concluded. “All in all, things have gone off well. All of the fire department personal and EMS personal have communicated well with the responding units and the Red Oak school district.”

“I think this is one of the things that we have to realize that not if it is going to happen but when it is going to happen. In an incident like this it brings everyone together,” Ovilla Fire Chief Donny Pickard said. “This is a learning experience for everybody. If we made mistakes, we want to know about those mistakes and learn from them.”

The participating fire departments included Red Oak, Glenn Heights, Duncanville, Ovilla, Midlothian, Waxahachie, Cedar Hill, Lancaster and DeSoto. Other agencies that took part included the Red Oak, Red Oak ISD and Glenn Heights police departments, along with East Texas EMS and CareFlite.

Specialized units on hand included a mobile command unit, a technical rescue unit, a mass casualty unit and a rehab unit.

Afterwards, Lindsey said he was pleased with the way the staff from Shields and the district team performed, saying he was “really proud to work with the local fire department and police departments.” It was a good community effort, he said.

Contact Andrew at Andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.