BUCKHANNON – Teachers, staff and administration at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School took part in important safety sessions Friday in an effort to support safety. The training sessions included learning about hostile intruders, how to stop the bleed, room-specific exercises, and identifying the sounds of firearms.
Upshur County Schools partnered with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department, the Buckhannon Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the presentation. Training will continue in schools around the county through November.
Tara Perry, Upshur County Schools Central Office Secretary, said the trainers wanted school staff to know how they would lend a helping hand in emergency situations and to learn some of the things that could happen.
“During any incident, there could be loud noises that would bounce off several surfaces, and it could be disorientating,” said Sgt. Theron Caynor with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department while describing what teachers might experience during an emergency event. “If it is not happening right beside you, then it could sound different. Depending on proximity, the sound of something like a gunshot could be muffled or magnified.”
Caynor said he thought the drills were important because they give school staff an idea of what to look and listen for, and what to be alert to throughout the day.
“This gives them some idea of what EMS, law enforcement and the fire department will be doing,” Caynor said. “It makes everyone more prepared. A lot of this stuff can be carried over into your everyday life. If you are driving home and come upon a car accident, through the stop the bleed training, you can render aid to those injured. If you are in the kitchen and cut yourself, you know what to do. All of this training is relevant and can be carried over in your everyday life.”
Upshur County Deputy Sheriff Tanner Collins said the drills are designed to help keep kids safe.
“Every little bit of knowledge we pass on is in an effort to keep the teachers and kids safe,” Collins said.
BAES Assistant Principal Sloan Baisden said Friday’s activities were important because they help prepare staff to react during emergencies.
“This has been on their mind and they are stressed,” Baisden said. “A lot of people have come to help train, and a lot of people have been asking for this training.”
BAES Principal Susanne Britton said she felt the training was a great opportunity for teachers to have the time to think about what they would do in the event of an emergency.
“If there was an active shooter, this gives them the opportunity to prepare in their mind what they would do and gives them a chance to dialogue with other people in the building to make sure they are doing what is best in case of an emergency in the building,” Britton said. “Events can become chaotic if we do not have the right tools and the right plans in place. This is the world today, and it is sad.”
Baisden said he feels very grateful that the training took place in the building itself.
“A lot of training happens in a central location, and then you bring back the knowledge to your school,” Baisden shared. “Today, we are able to break this down and talk about our building specifically.”
“We have only had positive responses from our parents about these trainings,” Britton added.
Buckhannon Chief of Police Matt Gregory said Friday’s training was an exercise in safety for students.
“That is paramount,” Gregory said. “Today is an example of the good relationship our law enforcement has with our schools. We have been invited by the Upshur County Board of Education to assist with training — specifically, we are each going to be assigned to different rooms throughout the school to help reiterate what they learned this morning and talk about some tactical hands-on scenarios for how they can keep themselves and students safe in the event of an active shooter situation.”
Gregory said it is important that the training events take place in the individual schools because it lends to the reality of the situation.
“Certainly, you can read booklets or watch videos and listen to presentations about it,” Gregory said. “Those create a good foundation for safety and the safety mindset. But when it comes to the application of these processes, especially when it takes place in the school itself, I think that reality approach ties everything together and helps get everyone on the same page as to how to protect ourselves and our students, first and foremost.”