Contributed by Ken McLemore/HPS Communications Director
HOPE, AR – A multi-agency crisis exercise conducted on the Hope High School campus served to sharpen planning and preparation for real contingencies, the Hope Police Department and Hope Public Schools reported after Monday’s drill.
The “active shooter” exercise drew response from the Hope Police Department, Hempstead County Sheriff’s Department, Hope Fire Department, Pafford Emergency Medical Services, the Hempstead County Emergency Management Office, and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.
“The Hope Police Department welcomes any opportunity to work and train with area first responders and public education in Hope and Hempstead County with the goal of making our community a safer place,” Hope Police Department Assistant Chief Kim Tomlin said.
The exercise portrayed an incident involving multiple gunshot injuries and fatalities throughout the main building at the high school campus.
The exercise is required by law and school policy to test the effectiveness of HPS crisis planning, and to provide crisis response training to first responders and law enforcement. Exercise “observers” noted that the response actions of all participants was credible and according to response planning during an after-action review in the HHS auditorium.
“I was very pleased with the outcome of today’s exercise; it showed each agency’s strengths, and provided insights into improving all of our capabilities,” Tomlin said after the meeting.
Classes were not in session on the campus on Monday; but, student and community volunteers participated in the exercise to bring immediacy and reality to the scenario.
Hope Public Schools Superintendent Bobby Hart noted the value of the exercise.
“As is always the case, our city first responders and law enforcement were gracious with their time and energy during our “active shooter” drill,” Hart said. “Their expertise and willingness to help our district provide a safe and secure environment for both students and staff is appreciated.”
Hart expressed the school district’s appreciation toward all the participants in the exercise.
“I particularly want to thank Office of Emergency Management officials for overseeing and offering feedback on the event,” he said. “We take student safety very seriously, and are always searching for ways to improve plans. These events help us to evaluate our current plans and protocols, and inform us of needs to modify them.”