Jackson County Schools teamed up with The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) nursing and Systems Management and Production Center (SMAP) to host a Mass Casualty Simulation/Training for nurses, teachers and administrators on Monday. County Schools Superintendent Kevin Dukes said the training was “eye-opening.”

“You go in knowing it’s an active shooter training, but when the simulation starts, reality sets in,” said Dukes.

The simulation is live, and some teachers said that it felt real.

“You hear the shots out in the hall, and you hear beating on the door and you don’t know if its students coming in, or the shooter or the Sheriff’s Department,” said Dukes. It’s important to have a plan and be able to follow that plan.”

Skyline High School Principal Jason Davidson said he did not really know what to expect during the simulation, but said the training was great for county schools.

“We’ve never done anything like this before, but it is something I would like to see us continue to do,” said Davidson.

Davidson said the biggest thing about any safety plan is that people have to come to the realization that they can never stop training, updating policies and checking building safety. He said they will never be 100% prepared for something like a school shooting to happen, but they can always strive to do more.

“You don’t think anything like this could happen, but if it does, you might have to step up and help, and this training helps with that,” said Davidson.

Jackson County Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Smith said it is important for teachers to have some type of training for these events.

“They’ll be the first responders if a school shooting ever happens, and it’s important that they have an idea of what to do until help arrives,” said Smith.

He also said it is important for schools to integrate this training into their emergency plans as well.

County Commission Chairman Tim Guffey attended the training yesterday morning and said more of this training should be done throughout the county. 

“I applaud Mr. Dukes for doing this, and I think we should see something like this quarterly. Not only for the school systems, but the Courthouse and the City of Scottsboro. We need to be going through programs like this more to make sure the people of Jackson County will be safe,” said Guffey.

Dr. Gary Maddux, SMAP Center Director, said he got started in this after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, and got very much involved in updating all county schools’ safety plans after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, he started looking into technologies to prevent shootings, using Jackson County schools as a test bed and hoping other school systems will adopt these technologies. Maddux and his team have helped secure Skyline High School with improved door locks, cameras in every classroom and vehicle tag recognition that will alert the principal, superintendent and law enforcement if someone drives onto campus who should not be there.

“We’ve got to do something to protect our students and our teachers,” said Maddux.

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