Sonoma County Office of Education

SCOE Hosted Multiple County Agencies in an Active Shooter Training on June 27

06/27/2016 -

As part of ongoing, countywide efforts to train and be prepared for emergency situations, Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) today hosted an active shooter training coordinated by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

Various governmental and emergency response agencies around Sonoma County participated, including: Redwood Empire Schools Insurance Group (RESIG), American Medical Response (AMR) ambulances, and Central Fire. In total, about 80 people participated. That included the Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, Hostage Negotiation Team, and Public Information Officer.

The exercise was not in reaction to any recent public shooting incidents, emphasized County Superintendent of Schools Steve Herrington. Rather, it was part of ongoing, proactive efforts by SCOE and county public safety agencies to provide appropriate, fast, and efficient responses, as well as good communications among departments, in the event of an emergency.

Sonoma County Sheriff PIO Cecile Focha added that her office appreciated the chance to practice an emergency response in an educational setting and help local educators prepare.

“Our teachers and staff are the first line of defense and become the true first responders in protecting the students and themselves from violent attacks and armed intruders,” she said. “An informed and reasoned response, in conjunction with the first responders, is vital to the safety and security of the students, faculty, and school personnel.”

SCOE offers Special Education, Career Technical Education, and Alternative Education classes to Sonoma County students during the academic year; the safety exercise was specifically chosen for a summer day when no students would be present. Only SCOE staff who had volunteered to participate were present.

The carefully planned exercise began at 8:00am. Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies entered SCOE in response to a report of two armed intruders shooting inside the building. Meanwhile, some volunteer SCOE staff played the role of victims who were treated by emergency responders while others were evacuated to safety.

Dr. Herrington stated, “Today provided SCOE an excellent opportunity to put into practice our protocols and procedures for how to address such an unthinkable incident, in collaboration with law enforcement and other county agencies.”

Following the training’s conclusion in the late morning, participants gathered to share lessons learned.

Sheriff’s Lt. Jim Naugle noted that the training reflected a new approach to handling crisis – an approach referred to as the “rescue task force.” In this method, emergency medical responders go into the hostile, dangerous situation with law enforcement to rapidly attend to the injured, entering the building before the threat is eliminated. This greatly speeds up treatment for patients, he said.

“This type of training for us is very invaluable, where we get together and work through things,” he said.