WILLIAMSON — Several members of local law enforcement, firefighters, emergency first responders, 911 Emergency Services and the assistant state fire marshal were at Williamson PK-8 to participate in several scheduled drills, including an active shooter/lockdown drill, on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
The drills were a part of Safety Week, from Oct. 21 to Oct. 28, during which all county schools had to participate in fire drills, active shooter drills, tornado drills and bus safety drills.
Bryan C. Casto from the W.Va. State Fire Marshal’s Office along with members of the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department, Williamson Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, Williamson Fire Department, Chattaroy Volunteer Fire Department, Matewan Volunteer Fire Department, STAT EMS and 911 Emergency Services participated in the drills.
Casto said that since 1909 there have been zero kids killed by a fire in West Virginia schools and that schools are still properly trained on what to do in the case of a fire.
He said he believes that these active shooter/lockdown drills are just as important in today’s school systems and need to be practiced just as often as fire drills.
Lesia Sammons and Marcella Charles-Casto, representing Mingo County Schools, said the goal of the activities was to improve their ability to protect students, save lives and reduce injuries in the case of an emergency.
A roundtable discussion was held following the drills, which involved all emergency personnel as well as school faculty and representatives from the school board office as they talked about some things that they could work on to better ensure the safety of the students.
The West Virginia Legislature passed House Bill 4402 that requires children in grades K-12 receive age-appropriate body safety education.
House Bill 2541 requires that a school safety plan is implemented that requires active shooter training for all school personnel and students.
Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.