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CPSO hosting emergency training for all parish law enforcement

FERRIDAY — Law enforcement agencies throughout Concordia Parish will be put to the test Saturday during an extensive drill encompassing everything from a hostage situation to a bomb threat.

The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office will host the drill from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Concordia Education Center on Kindergarten Road in Ferriday.

Chief Deputy David Hedrick said the exercise was created to test how all law enforcement agencies and medical and fire personnel would respond to a variety of emergency situations.

“Every department has strengths and weaknesses,” Hedrick said. “This is an excellent opportunity to push every single agency and find out what our weaknesses are in order to fix those.”

The mock drill will begin, Hedrick said, with an employee at the school reporting a man on campus with a gun.

Ferriday Police Department officers will respond first because of its proximity to the school, but CPSO deputies and Vidalia Police Department officers will also be called out the scene.

“Because it’s a school incident, every available law enforcement personnel would be activated and respond to the scene,” Hedrick said. “We will set up a command post and decide the next course of action.”

The CPSO Special Response Team will eventually enter the school and begin clearing each room.

“We’ll be able to monitor every inch of that school from our command post through the cameras they have in the school to help our guys out,” Hedrick said. “Through their search of the school, they’ll eventually discover the shooter has taken a hostage and need to respond to that situation.”

To keep all personnel on their toes throughout the scenario, the drill will then escalate into a bomb threat where the hostage taker will eventually simulate a bomb detonating at the school.

“That’s when our fire, ambulance and even air evacuation personnel come in and start setting up their operations,” Hedrick said. “School officials will also be tested to be on scene providing counseling to those involved.”

Volunteers will be inside the school playing the parts of teachers and other bystanders.

Hedrick said no weapons of any kind will be allowed on site during the simulation.

“We don’t want to use any weapons of any kind, so as not to confuse anyone of what’s a real gun or what might be a pellet gun or something,” he said.

Residents who live in the area or who might be driving by during the drill Saturday shouldn’t be alarmed at what they see, Hedrick said.

“We’re going to have road blocks up because we don’t want somebody thinking that the kids are involved and come up and try to help,” Hedrick said. “We’d appreciate the public’s assistance in helping us throughout the training.”

Hedrick said he hopes the agencies involved take away valuable lessons they can use for any actual emergency event that might occur in the future.

“This is the best way to prepare for the real thing,” he said. “We hope nothing like this ever happens in the parish, but that’s not going to stop us from preparing for the worst-case scenario.”