RIPLEY - Tuesday morning’s disaster drill at WVU-P’s Jackson County Center was a win-win. A win for the college and its safety committee who initiated the idea for the drill; and a win for county law enforcement, EMS, fire department, hospital and OES personnel who participated to test their skills and handling of an active shooter scenario with multiple victims.
The drill and its participants were scored by neural observers in the shooter scenario planned by OES Director Walt Smittle and Dave Bradley. Ripley Police Department, Jackson County Deputy Sheriffs and West Virginia State Police Ripley detachment officers participated along with Ripley Fire Department and Jackson County Emergency medical Services personnel and Jackson General Hospital staff.

Local law enforcement agencies, Jackson County Emergency Services and other first responders were on the scene, as West Virginia University at Parkersburg conducted a disaster drill involving a school shooting. The drill ran from 10 a.m. until approximately noon at the college’s Jackson County Center in Ripley.

Planning for the disaster drill began in February when WVU Parkersburg’s safety committee contacted local agencies in Jackson County to participate. Criminal justice students along with staff volunteers acted as victims during the scenario.
Walt Smittle, director of Jackson County Emergency Services, led the planning of the scenario to ensure that the drill was an effective training exercise for all first responders involved.

 “Each time we do these types of exercises, we get to see how our equipment works and how the officers, EMTs and others respond,” said Smittle. “It is always a valuable experience, and it enables us to address any issues that arise.”
 While WVU Parkersburg has planned and hosted similar exercises over the past several years, this is the first time the college has conducted a disaster drill at its Jackson County Center (JCC).

“This was a chance for us to test our emergency procedures and safety measures at JCC,” said Katie Wootton, WVU Parkersburg director of marketing and communications. “Our faculty, staff and students on campus were able to see what can potentially happen should this type of scenario really occur. We always stress the importance of taking drills seriously and following procedure.”

Individuals from Ohio Valley University and Marietta College attended planning meetings and participated as observers during the drill as a learning opportunity.

“Several area colleges have met recently to discuss safety training, so we wanted to invite our peers to participate,” said Wootton. “These trainings usually end up benefiting several agencies and organizations by increasing overall disaster preparedness.”