YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - It is a situation no community wants to experience: an active shooter. But with tragedies like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook becoming all too common, the York County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) decided it is better to be safe than sorry.
"It's better to know what to do before, if, gosh it ever happens," YCSO Public Information Officer Trent Faris said.
The sheriff's office holds active shooter drills on an annual basis, but this year the agency decided to go about it a little differently.
They invited York County Schools, York Police Department, York County Emergency Management, EMS, and other agencies to take part. In total, more than 300 people were involved in Tuesday's exercise.
The goal was to make it as real-life as possible. They asked volunteers to "role-play" as students and teachers, as well as four people playing the active shooters.
The media was involved in the drill as well, crossing barriers and trying to confirm what was happening.
When a call came in of a shooting at the York County Middle School Tuesday morning, the agencies responded as if it were actually happening. And just like it would in real life, the plan did not go through without a few bumps in the road.
The sheriff's office had to respond and develop a command post to put the media in a safe place. They brought in buses to take victims out and away from the scene. They even coordinated with the school district to find a way to inform parents how they could reunite with their child.
Deputies were ironing out their response to an active shooter as well.
"First responders, they move straight to the sound of gunfire. We have the bad guys play the role of bad guys," Faris said.
Another active shooter drill is planned for Thursday. During that exercise, media will be able to get an inside look at how authorities respond to mass shootings.