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Letter From Superintendent of Vermilion Local School District:
A School Lockdown/Emergency Drill Success Story.

Dear Lt. Colonel Grossman,

I met you when attending your program in Sandusky, Ohio at NASA Glenbrook this past fall. I was quite taken with your message. We spoke afterwards concerning our plans to have a mock disaster drill in a school with students in session. This drill would feature a scenario with two shooters and a full compliment of police, SWAT, emergency management, and Red Cross practicing and coordinating their efforts with school personnel to neutralize the perpetrators, extricate casualties, and return the school to a safe status.

We did conduct this exercise on March 31, 2004 at Sailorway Middle School. It had been preceded by a parent meeting on March 23, 2004, explaining the purpose of the drill and what their children would be seeing on March 31st. Immediately after the drill on the 31st, we had a debriefing assembly for all the students. Present at this drill were all 70 members of the various safety forces that had participated.

The exercise went very well. We had coverage of the drill through two Cleveland television stations and from the print media regarding the planning and communication of events leading up to the drill. I think we may have sent the message you felt was important regarding our preparedness.

I want you to know about the icing on the cake. After the drill had actually concluded and the students were seated in the gymnasium where the debriefing was to occur, we had the safety forces enter the gym. As the “good guys” were entering, the students exploded into a spontaneous display of appreciation by giving them an ovation. The SWAT team, police department, and fire department were actually taken off guard for the first time during the day. All of is felt that the students were showing their allegiance to the guys wearing the white hats. It appeared to many of us that the students were now empowered to identify with the mission and ethic or the good guys. No longer were they going to be intimidated or feel inadequate in the face of those who wish to do them harm. They now know there are many who are going to come to their rescue, and they are no longer on their own. This is a very important message that will promote school safety for some time to come.

I want to thank you for the guidance that empowered us to continue with this program. If I could ever assist you with a presentation or encouragement of others to plan for this type of event, please feel free to contact me. Enclosed are some clippings concerning our exercise.

Sincerely,
Bruce J. Keller
Superintendent
Vermilion Local Schools


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