Pinellas first responders prepare for emergencies with mass shooting drills

SEMINOL, Florida (TodayNews) — First responders in Pinellas County have come together to prepare for the worst – active gunfire.

On Thursday, Seminole High School and Seminole High School had drills. It was set up to be as realistic as possible. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said it’s about putting first responders to the test and pushing the boundaries.

The training is designed to assess first responders and improve their overall preparedness for an emergency event.

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In one exercise, a high school was used to simulate the situation of an active shooter at an insurance company, where the shooter pulled out an AR-15. An emergency call rang, and 300 rescuers arrived at the scene. Sheriff Gualtieri supervised the training.

“The question is not if it will happen again, it will happen again,” Gualtieri said. “The question is when and where. We hope this is not the case and we need to be as prepared as possible.”

The exercise involved live actors pretending to be victims and two active shooters.

“The shooter today parked in the parking lot, crossed the street to the insurance company where he worked and was fired, then approached the school where he was a recent student and started shooting. He had an AR-15 rifle,” the sheriff said.

School resource officers confronted the shooters and apprehended them.

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The Sheriff said another important part of the training included a reunion site run by Pinellas County Schools.

“Invite parents, invite students and offer counselling, make sure they have what they need, reunite with their parents and partner with agencies to move forward,” Superintendent Kevin Hendrick explained. “Find out what our vulnerabilities are, train on that, plug those holes so we can get better,” Gualtieri said.

The training doesn’t end there. Sheriff Gualtieri said he noticed an improvement from last year’s practice, but there’s always more to learn.

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