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‘Active shooter’ drill at Frontier Central High School to test response of staff, police agencies

Frontier Central High School will be the stage this April for every parent’s worst nightmare: someone wandering the halls, shooting students and teachers.

The “active shooter” drill is aimed at saving lives should a real act occur. It involves the cooperation of several law enforcement agencies and volunteer firefighters and other emergency responders.

Because of the magnitude of the drill, just one large one is held in the county each year, said FBI Special Agent James A. Jancewicz.

“This is the first Southtowns drill,” said Mary Ann Costello, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Jancewicz, Hamburg town police school resource officer Dennis P. Horrigan and Scott R. Patronik, chief of special services for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, told the School Board about the drill Tuesday.

It will take place April 21 in one section of the high school. Staff members and some students, who must have parental permission, will take part.

Hamburg town and village police, Blasdell police, law enforcement officers from surrounding communities and town volunteer fire companies are expected to respond.

Patrol officers will be the first to respond to the call, Jancewicz said, adding that is the most dangerous spot for an officer to be in.

A study of 160 active shooting incidents from 2000 to 2013 released by the U.S. Justice Department found that nine officers were killed and 28 were wounded. It also found that of 63 incidents where timelines could be determined, 70 percent ended in 5 minutes or less, and 23 of those ended in 2 minutes or less, he said.

“We haven’t worked with other agencies on something this big,” Horrigan said.

Principal Jeffrey A. Sortisio said that there will be three phases to the drill:

• The active shooter phase and the 911 call.

• Then a wing of the school will be turned over to police and emergency medical technicians as they handle the aftermath of the simulated incident.

• After school, staff members will discuss what happened and how procedures can be improved.

Sortisio said that because the school’s doors are locked, every patrol car and officer have been given key fobs so they can gain entry in an emergency.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com