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It’s only a drill: Police agencies to swarm Ferndale school for ‘active shooter’

Ferndale police, U.S. Border Patrol, Ferndale School District and other local agencies participated in an active shooter exercise at Ferndale High School on Oct. 23, 2014.
Ferndale police, U.S. Border Patrol, Ferndale School District and other local agencies participated in an active shooter exercise at Ferndale High School on Oct. 23, 2014. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Multiple law enforcement agencies will conduct a full-scale active shooter emergency drill at Horizon Middle School in Ferndale this week.

Operation Green Hornet will take place on Thursday, Oct. 13, at three locations: Horizon, Ferndale High School’s gymnasium and PeaceHealth, from 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

John Gargett, the deputy director for the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office’s Division of Emergency Management and the designer of the operation, said the drill will to involve 34 agencies.

Students will begin the day at Horizon Middle School, where officials will stage a lockdown drill followed by an assembly in the school’s group instruction area, said Mark Deebach, assistant superintendent for Ferndale School District’s Business and Support Services.

“At that point, the building administration representatives from law enforcement, fire (and) sheriff’s office will go through an educational component with the students talking about why we’re doing the exercise, what their piece of the exercise is, what the student’s roles are and basically give them the instructional component of an emergency situation,” Deebach said.

After the assembly, all 450 students and staff at Horizon will be “evacuated” on school buses to the Ferndale High School gymnasium, where a reunification exercise will begin.

“Reunification is a terribly important thing that the school gets right and what that is, is that every single kid goes home with an authorized person and no one else in the event that there is a disruption in the school functions,” said Ferndale police Officer Steve Gamage, who also is a school resource officer.

During the reunification, actors will be brought in to Horizon to play the roles of victims and the active shooter. The 34 agencies will then jump into action in their respective locations to contain the mock situation at the middle school and to treat the “patients” who are streaming into the hospital.

All police and fire departments will be staffed and on call as usual throughout Whatcom County. For information, ferndalesd.org/safety/operation-green-hornet/.

Vanessa Thomas: 360-715-2289, @vaney_t13

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