PORT ST. JOE Wewahitchka and Port St. Joe high school's staffs are better prepared for an emergency. Administrators conducted drills Friday involving a gunman on campus. Friday’s active shooter drill is one of many the schools will be staging.
It's every community's nightmare; a gunman on a school campus.
Gulf County Emergency Management Director Marshall Nelson said, "As you know all across the nation there's school shootings mall shootings and it’s on the rise."
Gulf County school officials want students, teachers and staff members to be prepared, just in case.
Superintendent of Gulf County Schools Jim Norton said, "This is truly a live fire exercise and probably could be traumatic. But uh, but uh we wanted mainly to train faculty and staff along with local and other law enforcement that would react if something were to happen here."
Friday's exercise involved an expert consultant from a security company playing the part of the gunman.
Once he enters the school and fires, the teachers jump into action. Pat Hendricks locks the door of her classroom, puts a desk in front of it and shuts off the lights.
“The teachers here would lay down their lives for every one of their students here. And that's what we're gonna practice," Hendricks said.
The schools conducted the drills during spring break, without the students for a number of reasons. They feared some of the teens might be traumatized, but mainly to allow the teachers and staff to concentrate on the training.
"It is so critical, because we live in a world where one day a school is...Nobody knows about the school and the next day, everybody knows its name and not for a good reason,” said Hendricks.
The schools will practice another active shooter scenario this summer.