EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — High school teachers and administration readied in their assigned areas Friday for the district’s first in-school active shooter drill.
Superintendent Kim Gruccio said the drill had been in the works for months and wasn’t conducted because of the recent Las Vegas concert massacre, but it was timely.
“It brings it to the forefront of your minds, which makes you stop and think this could be real, anywhere, anytime,” she said of the Oct. 1 mass shooting.
A 2013 FBI report concluded school shootings were the second-most prevalent location for active shooters from 2000 and 2013, when there were 39 mass school shootings.
FBI data show 47 active-shooter incidents from 2001 to 2016 were in educational settings.
“I thought it was important to do, in general. We haven’t done anything of this magnitude since I’ve been here,” Gruccio said.
A 2010 New Jersey law requires schools to hold one fire and one emergency drill per month. Emergency drills may include an active-shooter scenario, lockdown or nonfire evacuation.
School transportation coordinator Warren “Skip” Fipp initiated a similar drill for the buses in the district this summer and worked with Gruccio for the in-school drill.
On Friday, after students left early on a half-day, members of the administration gathered in the main lobby, waiting for police and federal air marshals to set up the mock emergency.
Faculty members were spread through the school as they would be on a normal day, but cameras rolled to record the faux response.
Gruccio said trainings are necessary because thousands of people — students, faculty and staff — in the school every day need to know how to react in an active-shooter situation. Future drills will include the students.
“I want them to be comfortable with what it sounds like, looks like, feels like,” Gruccio said.
This drill was the firstto be conducted at every school in the district this month.
After the drill, the faculty gathered in the auditorium with police Capt. Dave Druding.
“Don’t be prey,” he told the teachers.
Druding said this type of training is two-fold, because it helps the school and helps the emergency responders. He said the drill allows police to experience various situations, because emergency situations are “dynamic and fluid.”
“It’s not going to go away, and it’s not something we can ignore,” Druding said. “You’ve always got to be ready. You’ve got to prepare for the worst, and that’s why you train.”