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El Centro, CUHS district prepare for local terrorism with campus drill

May 10, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

How to deal with a potentially lethal situation on an El Centro high school campus will be the subject of a citywide drill.

The drill's scenario will include a person with a firearm and will take place at Central Union High School at 10 a.m. May 19.

Mayor Cheryl Walker said the drill will benefit parents and the city.

"It gives parents a certain sense of security knowing the city and school districts have thought about what to do should something like this occur," she said. "God forbid it should ever occur but at least there's a plan in place."

The drill will allow the city to test its own plan to ensure it can respond to the situation, Walker said.

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The drill is officially called a domestic terrorism exercise plan. Agencies participating will include the El Centro Police Department, the El Centro Fire Department, the Central Union School District, city staff and emergency medical services, among others.

CUHS Superintendent Richard Fragale said he's not been involved in the details of planning the drill but said it is expected to show how the various agencies are prepared collectively for just such a situation.

"We want to know how ready we are," Fragale said, adding in light of shootings on school campuses the idea of a drill involving a firearm "is not a bad idea."

The official purpose of the drill is to evaluate emergency management staff response to a domestic terrorism incident utilizing the incident command system and standardized emergency management system procedures in a domestic terrorism scenario.

The drill's objectives are to:

· evaluate the ability of emergency management staff to perform the necessary functions of command, operations, plans, logistics and finance and operate within the standardized emergency management system guidelines.

· develop checklists to assist EMS in performing its respective duties.

· evaluate communications plans and documents.

· evaluate field responses of fire, police, EMS and schools.

· fulfill mandated exercise requirements.

The final briefing for some of those participating was Wednesday. A "table top" exercise of the drill will be held next week.

Several as-yet unidentified streets in the vicinity of Central High will be closed off for a short time on the day of the drill.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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