Local first responders training to keep schools safe

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- For the emergency management team at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro the preparation is underway for one of the largest law enforcement mass casualty full-scale emergency response exercises.

Thursday, Feb. 1 local, federal and state agencies will take part in active real-life situations at the McIver building on campus.

“Any time an incident occurs as it did in Kentucky this week, it is a true devastation and disaster. So, we take that to heart here at UNCG and we prioritize our response to emergencies on campus,” said Zach Smith, emergency services director at UNCG.

While only a week will separate the training from Tuesday’s shooting at a Kentucky high school, which killed two students and wounded 18 others, Smith says a lot has been put towards planning this event.

“Because it is a high priority of ours that's one of the reasons we are conducting an exercise that is a mass casualty exercise to ensure that we have the resources in place both on campus and in the community to address those issues as they arise,” he explained.

Safety in schools is also a priority for Winston-Salem police.

“In our school resource unit, we have 20 officers that are assigned to middle schools and high schools in the city limits of Winston-Salem and their biggest role is to ensure safety and security at those schools.” Lt. Tom Peterson said.

Officers there continuously work with the school district along with first responders on a plan.

School resource officers receive training up to twice a year on what to do.

“All schools go through lockdown training and the SRO is a part of that. The hope is for every school system and every law enforcement agency across the country is that you don’t have to deal with a situation like that. But if that does come to fruition, if it happens it's good that the staff, the students and the law enforcement officers have a plan,” Peterson said.

Just as reminder UNCG along with Guilford County will send out an alert to students and people who live nearby about the exercise.

Click here for a list of street closures, parking and bus changes that will happen that day.