BRECKSVILLE -- An emergency drill in which many students are "shot" was staged at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.
The drill was scheduled long before the shootings at Chardon High School.
"We've been talking about this for a year," said George Balasko, of the Parma Police Department, the Senior Controller of Friday's drill. "The hard planning began in November when we applied for federal grants to pay for this training, but we are very conscious of the issues out in Chardon."
The emergency drill at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High involved hundreds of students, including members of the Drama Club who portrayed wounded and panicked students.
Junior Ashley Elek said Chardon High School was on their minds as they went through the very realistic looking drill, in which many students were "killed" and "wounded."
"We had a similar drill last year," Elek told WKYC, "but we really had nothing to compare it with. But after everything at Chardon, it's like, oh my gosh, this could really happen, because it did."
A second drill was staged at the same time at Valley Forge High School in Parma Heights. The idea was to not only test that school and community's ability to respond, but to evaluate the strain on shared resources.
The Brecksville area and Parma have common mutual aid and both locations would send victims to Parma Community Hospital, which was also part of Friday's drills.
The scenario at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School began at 11:30 a.m., when the school resource officer alerted police that three gunmen had started shooting inside the school.
"Three shooters began in our media center, inflicting many casualties in that area," is how Balasko described the scenario, "and then moved into the hallways where they tried to inflict as many injuries as they could."
Student volunteers splattered with stage blood were lying in hallways and classrooms, while firefighters and paramedics rushed to treat them and evacuate them to safety.
"First, we'll take care of the shooter or shooters," said Lt. Steve Kopniske of the Broadview Heights Police Department.
"Then we'll bring in the medics to get the injured treated and out of there. And we'll also need to clear the whole school because the students will be in lockdown."
The two-hour drill went well, according to Balasko, who said a thorough review will be made to assess stregths and weaknesses of the emergency preparedness plan.
He did say that having a School Resource Officer inside the high school was a valuable asset.
"Quick response by the School Resource Officer helps cut down on response time," he explained. "It also gets valuable information out to the safety forces so they know what's going on inside the school."