Emergency drill takes over grade school

NEWSCENTER 23
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POSTED: Friday, May 3, 2013 - 4:29pm

UPDATED: Saturday, May 4, 2013 - 10:48am

It's every parent's nightmare. Armed gunmen take a classroom hostage. Everybody hopes this never happens, but authorities want to be ready if it happens in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Which prompted a practice drill at Gonzalez Elementary School in Palmview. Hundreds of police, fire, SWAT and border patrol officers played-out a scenario in which a classroom is taken hostage.

The La Joya School District organized the entire event, which involved hundreds of first responders and dozens of fake victims.  

"Our first goal is always prevention," said La Joya ISD's Eden Ramirez. "But in the drastic event that something were to happen, we come out of here today knowing that we're a little bit more aware of what our needs and what our flaws are."

A drill of this size is the first of its kind in the area. Organizers said they were inspired by the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  
"We came together to think about what we need to do as a school district," Ramirez said. "To respond and be prepared for an event like this. So we called a lot of our local agencies... We sold them the idea, and everyone came together."

Police and fire agencies tested their own preparedness. To give themselves grades, an evaluation firm was hired.  SOGOPS watched the crews enter the property and take out the victims.  

"How they're moving, where they're moving, if they have people watching different corners, different sides," said Ruben Gonzalez, an instructor with SOGOPS. "Which they did great, I didn't see any faults at all. They were doing great."

  

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