‘We hope for the best and plan for the worst’
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Enterprise photos by Nate Howard

An officer with the Livingston Police Department secures a door during a multi-agency active shooter drill at Park High School Friday. For more photos on the event, see Page 8.

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Local authorities including the Livingston Police Department rehearse an active shooter drill at Park High School Friday with independent photographers and media attending.

Local agencies prepared today for an event they hope never to replicate in real life — an active shooter at Park High School.

The active shooter drill planning has been going on for the past eight months, Livingston Fire and Rescue Chief Ken MacInnes said Friday morning.

The purpose of the drill, which included law enforcement, city and county officials including a public information officer, fire departments, the Livingston School District and Livingston HealthCare, is meant to engage all the agencies that would be called on to respond — in real time — in the event of an actual emergency, Park County Undersheriff Clay Herbst said Friday.

Students did not participate in the drill, and school was not in session at Park High today.

Park County Sheriff Scott Hamilton said the training also helps to work out areas that may need improvement.

“Hopefully we’ll see some things aren’t going well and see what we need to do to improve them,” he said.

Two technical issues came to light during preparations, including some phone lines and remote radio systems that weren’t working, he said.

The training included communications, too, complete with a remote dispatcher set up on a separate channel from the regular 911 lines. The training broadcasts included multiple “This is a training exercise” so that outsiders — including nearby law enforcement agencies in Gallatin County — didn’t pick up the transmission and think it was real, Hamilton said.

Members of the media were allowed to stand by in the E Hallway and see law enforcement personnel go in full gear. And then medics were allowed to go in and retrieve “victims.” Emergency responders were told during the exercise to plan to transport five to eight patients to LHC.

Meanwhile, PHS staff practiced their “Run Hide Fight” training. Back in February, PHS held an inhouse active shooter training. Teachers were subjected to the sound of fake gun fire from PCSO Sergeant Brad Bichler, shouting “I’m gonna find you and kill you!” while shooting a pistol loaded with blanks. The teachers were to then practice barricading themselves into their classrooms.

During Friday morning’s planning meeting, held in the PHS Library Bichler briefed everyone on what was going on before everyone moved to their positions.

There was a white plastic lidded bucket on a library table. The bucket was labeled “EMR,” for Emergency Response, Sleeping Giant Middle School Science Teacher David Pettit said. He demonstrated what was in the bucket and what it was for. In the event of a real emergency and a classroom of students was locked down for several hours, they would need supplies.

The bucket contained hard candy and granola bars, first-aid supplies and feminine hygiene products, not only for the girls, but to also use, if needed, for wound care, Pettit said. The bucket is meant to be used as a makeshift toilet, and a plastic liner is included. And there was also a larger bag to act as a privacy screen, he said.

The EMR buckets will be in PHS soon, he said.

During the exercise, MacInnes pushed a button on a small black box. The box emitted fake smoke, in order to replicate reality. Gunshots rang out. Law enforcement, in full body armor and carrying AR-15s, thundered down the hall. Shortly thereafter, medics rushed in with supplies and collapsible stretchers, pulling “victims” out quickly, with the noise and smoke creating an atmosphere of tension.

Hamilton stood by with the media, relaying messages via radio and cellphone, keeping up with events as they unfolded.

“We hope for the best and plan for the worst,” he said.