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School won't say when, but drill planned

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Although officials are keeping tight-lipped, plans have been finalized for a proposed disaster drill to take place at Greencastle High School later this year.

Discussion regarding the drill began in October at monthly Putnam County Safe School meetings.

In October, Greencastle Middle School Principal Shawn Gobert suggested the drill take place in April just prior to the Greencastle High School prom.

Recently, GHS Assistant Principal Russ Hesler said a date had been set. However, he said in order for the drill to work properly, he would not divulge the date. He said the corporation wanted students and emergency officials to not know the date so they could work the drill efficiently and students could watch the drill as well.

"It's planned out pretty well," Hesler said. "We want it as a surprise. It's as much of a drill for (emergency officials) as it is an eye-opener for our students."

Hesler said plans have been made to stage a car accident that would require an air lift. He added there would be a debriefing with school counselors among other officials following the drill.

Hesler, who has been with the corporation for nearly 30 years, said he believed the drill would be the first of its kind at the school.

"We've had people come in and talk about accidents," Hesler said. "But as a full-blown disaster drill, in my 29 years, this is the first."

Hesler added he hoped the students in attendance at the event would take the matter seriously.

"I think teenagers think they're invincible," Hesler said. "I was there once. I remember those invincible feelings. I hope (the drill) changes some of their attitudes.

"They can see commercials and hear from mom and dad, but until they see classmates extricated from a car and dying, it can happen like that. The shock and awe can hit you."

Emergency agencies scheduled to take part in the event include the Greencastle Police Dept., Putnam County Operation Life, Greencastle Fire Dept., Greencastle High School, Air Evac, Hamilton Center, Putnam County Prosecutor's office and the Putnam County Coroner's office.

The Safe School Committee had considered conducting a mock bomb threat drill prior to electing to using the automobile accident drill.

Both the North Putnam Community School Corp. and Cloverdale Commun-ity School Corp. have had similar drills in the past.

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