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Orchard Park PD utilizing new techniques to help save lives during school shootings

Posted at 10:50 PM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 23:23:28-05

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Orchard Park Police Department is preparing for the worst.

“We only get good by doing. And fortunately, here in Western New York, we don't do this all the time,” said Captain Patrick Fitzgerald with the OPPD.

Monday night, in an empty Orchard Park Middle School, they practiced responding to an active shooter, while Orchard Park firefighters and EMS treated the wounded. The shooter and victims were actors in this case.

“The idea of law enforcement securing a scene and then calling EMS to transport and treat patients is a very antiquated idea. And we know the time it takes to secure a three-story school building is significantly long,” said Captain Fitzgerald.

They’re working on a relatively new technique. In school shootings in the past, medical treatment wouldn't be cleared to enter a building with an active shooter, until the shooting was confirmed to be done. In this this training, they’re clearing rooms and escorting EMS to the cleared areas.

“The idea is to increase the number of survivors from a very violent attack” added Fitzgerald.

But are drills like these helpful for schools? Short answer, yes. We'll explain why we ask this question.

Last week, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association released a report that said lock down drills and active shooting drills can be highly traumatic for students, especially young ones.

But, as Captain Fitzgerald explains, there's a reason a drill as active as this, is being done when kids are on February Break.

“There's a difference between a school lock down drill which New York State requires every school practice, minimum four times a year, and an active shooter drill. So, what we're doing tonight is an active shooter drill,” said Fitzgerald.