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Active shooter drill trains teachers, first responders

Posted on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 2:30 pm


Erin McCullough


The sight of multiple police and fire vehicles at Tullahoma High School on Wednesday afternoon was no cause for concern, according to school officials.

On Wednesday, members of the Tullahoma Police and Fire departments coordinated a special training session to deal with active shooter situations at Tullahoma High School (THS).

The drill was one in a series of emergency preparedness measures the school system is required to perform on an annual basis, according to Director of Schools Dan Lawson.

All school districts in the state must perform a certain number of emergency drills, including fire and tornado drills.

In the last five years, Lawson said, active shooter drills have become more and more important to the emergency preparedness of schools across the nation.

Tullahoma Police Officers Justin Smith, left, and Jimmy Coleman secure a classroom door during Wednesday afternoon’s active shooter drill at Tullahoma High School. The drill was used to help train both officers and THS faculty on how to react in the event of an active shooter situation at the high school.
–Staff Photo by Erin McCullough

Wednesday’s drill was just Tullahoma High School’s attempt at fine-tuning its action plan in the event of an active shooter situation.

“This is not new,” Lawson said.

Kathy Rose, the principal at THS, echoed Lawson’s sentiments, saying the drill was just the next one up for her school.

“It’s time for another drill,” Rose said before the drill took place. “This is probably a good time to do it, because it’s on people’s minds right now.”

While Rose said no one could prepare for everything, this drill was one step her staff could take in order to be better prepared “should the worst happen,” and would allow all employees at THS to put themselves in the mindset needed should an active shooter situation arise at the high school.

While neither she nor Lawson would go into details of the plan, citing school safety, Rose said the best outcome of the drill would be to give her employees “a set of steps to follow” and “some information that might keep them and their students safer should the worst happen.”



The drill was coordinated by a variety of fire, police and school personnel, with Tullahoma Police Capt. George Marsh leading his officers in their actions during the drill.

After the drills were completed, Marsh said he was pleased with how his officers responded during the scenarios.

“I liked what I saw today,” he said.

Having situation drills like Wednesdays helped him see where his officers might improve their responses in real-life situations, he said.

“There’s always room for improvement; that’s why we train,” Marsh said.

That yearning for improvement is why the department has multiple drills like Wednesday’s every year, he said.

“We do quite a few; our SOU (Special Operations Unit) team does one once a month,” he said.

While the SOU team has a monthly drill, experiences like Wednesday’s are less frequent, though Marsh said he was trying to get the department to have more of them.

“As far as this goes, with getting other officers involved, it depends on when we can get some access to some schools,” he said. “We’re trying to do at least three or four a year.”

Erin McCullough may be reached by email at tnrept09@lcs.net.