A training exercise for personnel who are first responders to an emergency situation is set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, at Grand Forks Central High School.
Areas around the school will be temporarily blocked off to vehicles and pedestrians. Residents are asked to avoid the area.
The full scale exercise will involve police, fire and sheriff’s departments, emergency management, the school district, Altru Health System emergency medical services and others.
People also have been enlisted to act as teachers, students and parents; some will be acting as -- and made up to look like -- injured victims, allowing Altru emergency medical personnel to practice triage protocols, said Kari Goelz, director of emergency management for the city and county.
The training exercise is meant to help law enforcement, fire and emergency medical personnel practice response skills.
Goelz has received a $30,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to organize the training exercise.
Heartland Consulting of Bismarck, the firm that’s been hired to facilitate the training, does not reveal details of the attack in order to replicate a real-life situation, said Goelz, who estimated that about 100 to 150 people will be involved.
The consultants also will evaluate the performance of first responders and provide a report, including identifying communication gaps, within a couple of weeks, Goelz said.
“A unified command is also critical,” she said.
The exercise will cover the active shooter response, relocating students and reunifying students with their parents, said Jody Thompson, associate superintendent for Grand Forks Public Schools.
Cities Area Transit has been enlisted to bus students to the Alerus Center, where school district staff will practice protocol for reuniting students with their parents, he said.
Because a full scale exercise of this type involves many agencies, it is expensive -- due to overtime and other costs -- and so is staged once every three to five years, Thompson said.
It was last performed in 2016 at a Grand Forks middle school, Goelz said.
Thompson estimated that 35 to 40 school district personnel will be involved.
The school district also conducts planned drills throughout the school year, including at least two lock-downs at each school, Thompson said.
Each school has an emergency response team, as does the school district.
Each year, three to six schools are selected for unannounced lock-down drills involving the Grand Forks Police Department, he said.
Reunification drills, when students are transported to an alternate, more secure location to be reunited with their parents, are also conducted.
Drills and practice exercises of this kind are crucial, Thompson said.
“It’s the most important thing we do, and that’s to provide a safe and secure environment for our students and staff and our families,” he said.