Union County Principal Connie Rosenberger summarized Saturday's exercise at the high school and middle school very well.
After it was over, the 85 or so volunteers and first responders gathered in the Union County Middle School cafeteria to talk over what had just happened in the last 95 minutes.

Rosenberger quietly said, “We will never be ready for this, but we should be as ready as we can be.”
What they were trying to get ready for with this exercise was evacuating Union County High School students from the high school to the middle school because there was an active shooter at the high school.

Once the students were at the middle school, parents, grandparents and guardians were reunited with the students.

Mike Reister, school safety specialist, was in charge of the exercise.

Before Rosenberger talked about never being prepared for something as hideous as a school shooter loose among the students and staff, Reister talked about how incongruous it was for him and others to have this exercise, this practice for something almost everyone prays to never happen, but it happens way too often. As short a time ago when Reister was a student at Franklin County High School, in the 1990s, this was something that was not even considered.

“We really appreciate everyone coming out and helping us out,” Reister said. “Unfortunately, it's something we have to practice, because that's the way the world is right now. It's not the way it was when we were younger. We appreciated it.”

At 9 a.m., the volunteers and first responders met in the high school cafeteria as Reister and Rosenberger went over what was going to happen, and the roles different people were going to play. There were donuts, bottles of water and people drinking coffee. It was beautiful outside.
There were some students and teachers present. They were going to stay in the high school, locked inside their rooms.

Other volunteers went to the middle school.

Union County Sheriff Dale Dishmond called his deputies and officers with the Liberty Police Department over to one of the round tables in the cafeteria. They went over how they were going to act. Dishmond was the shooter. Officers would come in waves, searching the hallways for Dishmond.

A warning was put out over the scanner for those in the area who monitor scanners, everything was an exercise. There was nothing bad going on at the schools. After that, a 911 call was made, and the emergency personnel were dispatched.

The sun was still strong from the east, meaning the officers were coming from the shadows. Their hands outstretched as if holding weapons, searching for the gunmen. One group went through, and another came on in their place. This occurred about four times.

Once this was completed, the students were led out the east door. A bus was waiting, parked on the grass beside the school. Officers stood guard on either side of the students, human shields if that was needed.

Students went into the bus quickly, and it went to the middle school. Leaving the bus was about the same as entering. The students went inside the gym doors and sat on the gymnasium bleachers.

Parents came in and the procession began in the library. Some were taken to guidance counselors. They did not receive good news. Others were brought up to the band room. Parents needed a photo ID. That became one of the sticking points with the exercise as to how many parents would make sure they had their photo IDs as they rushed to the school to find out about their children. What happens if those in charge recognize parents who do not have a photo ID? What happens if parents arrive and the parents are not supposed to have access to their children, but they have a photo ID and the people in charge do not know about the court order? What if a neighbor picks up children for her family and the neighbor's family, and then the real mother shows up looking for her children?

Volunteers mimicked parents who were out of control. Students cried and asked for their parents before the exchange was ready. Once the reunification took place, they went outside to get new instructions and replayed with different roles.

Later, a woman whose sister went through an actual school shooting as a parent told about how her sister did not see her children for four hours. But it was not the time away from her children that upset her, it was the parents, grandparents and guardians. The sister said over the cell phone she was scared of the crowd. They had parked willy nilly in the middle of roads, not allowing the emergency personnel to reach the school. That was the reason for the delay. There are few roads to reach the UCMS. If those two arteries are blocked by numerous vehicles, what would be the answer?
At the debriefing, Rosen-berger said to multiply what they went through by 700.

Reister said the different areas that were set up as different stations for the reunification in the middle school have to be identified inside every school within the corporation. If this occurs, they have to be put in operation in less time than it takes to talk about it.

This is just one of the exercises which will be held at the schools. The next one, the volunteers and first responders were told, will be a full exercise where there will be a shooter; the shooter will be suppressed; first responders will treat the wounded and ascertain the dead. Students will be evacuated, and reunifications will be made.

The volunteers were told the core philosophy: Cops own the crime; Fire owns the flame; Schools own the kids; Paramedics own the patient.