High school to conduct safety drill with simulated gunfire

Some parents of students at Cary-Grove High School are upset with plans for simulated gunfire during an emergency-preparedness drill.

An Illinois high school's plans for an emergency-response drill complete with simulated gunfire has some parents on edge.

Cary-Grove High School in Cary, Ill., about 45 miles northwest of Chicago, has scheduled a "Code Red" lockdown drill for Wednesday. The drill includes the firing of blanks in the hallway so that students and teachers "might be able to recognize the sound and react quickly should an active gunman situation occur," the school said in a statement on its website.

The drill will be conducted with the help of Cary police officers, who will sweep the building.

Some parents wondered whether including the simulated gunfire was going too far.

"It's probably necessary to have the 'code red' drill but not really necessary to shoot the blanks in the hallway," parent Kassy Pinter told CBS Chicago.

"If you need to run a drill, you run a drill," parent Sharon Miller told WBBM Newsradio. "They run fire drills all the time, but they don't run up and down the hallway with a flamethrower."

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School officials explained how the drill will be conducted:

"The drill will begin with a public address announcement about the lockdown. After staff have secured their rooms, Cary police and administrators will sweep the building to ensure all students made it into secure locations and assess any potential issues that may become apparent from the practice. Following this, a second PA announcement will be made informing students and staff that gunfire will be simulated so that they might be able to recognize the sound and react quickly, should an active gunman situation occur.

"Following the drill, a discussion will ensue between the students and their classroom teacher. We will utilize this feedback as a building and police department to assess our security and make any necessary adjustments to our building plan. Our sole purpose for utilizing the blanks is to fully prepare our students and staff."

School officials encouraged parents to discuss the drill with their children before and after it happens.

"These drills help our students and staff to be prepared should a crisis occur, but it may cause some students to have an emotional reaction. In those cases, a parent's voice may provide reassurances of the drill's importance," the school said. "Additionally, we have trained social workers on staff who can speak directly with students."

Schools across the country have been grappling with better ways to increase security and respond to emergencies in the wake of last month's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The massacre, carried out by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, left 20 first-graders and six adults dead. Police said Lanza also killed his mother at their Newtown home and later committed suicide as police approached the school.

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