Last Friday, Feb. 14, the Gonzales Independent School District, along with local first responders, conducted an intruder drill at the Gonzales Junior High School campus.
“Each year, we try to work on a major incident that we would have to involve our students in,” Gene Kridler, the GISD Director of Operations explained. “As a school district, each campus has to do their own set number of drills. To work on this drill, we wanted to do an intruder drill to work on our lockdown procedures. We have never done a unification using students, so we selected ahead of time the theatre arts group.”
The drill was used to identify areas of improvement in the district’s safety and security procedures. The procedure lasted about 45 minutes, according to the school district, with the reunification process that took place at the First United Methodist Church lasting about an hour.
“At the conclusion of the drill, the school district as well as the first responders were able to identify areas of improvement in the safety/security procedures,” Gonzales ISD said in a release. “While we pray such type of incident never occurs, this type of drill prepares the school and the community. Student and staff safety are top priority. These drills provide the emergency response teams the opportunity to perfect their procedures that are in place to ensure the all safe.”
The school district involved multiple local agencies, including the City of Gonzales Police Department, Gonzales County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Department of Public Safety state troopers, Texas Game Wardens, Memorial Hospital and the Gonzales County Emergency Medical Service.
“We involved every first responder that’s in town,” Kridler explained. “We involved Memorial Hospital because they have drills as well that they need to work on. We had five students ‘injured’, we had them dressed up as injured. Fake blood. It looked real. So once we put these kids in the room, we had the staff, the teachers and the students work ‘Stop the Bleed.’”
Gonzales ISD administrators are currently debriefing with the various local agencies to evaluate their safety procedures and figure out what, if anything, needs to be changed in order to improve their policies.
“There’s always things you can work on to do better,” Kridler said. “We debriefed as a partial team [Tuesday] to talk about it. I’m going to be meeting with [Gonzales Junior High principal] Roque Thompson, as well, to see if he’s talked to his staff about it. We’re going to talk to the parents as well to see their side of it, because they had to meet us at our reunification site at First United Methodist Church. I’m going to meet with [Gonzales PD] Chief Crow, to see their side. There’s a lot of moving parts, making sure that we all get together and, God forbid this ever happens, I pray that it doesn’t, but we want to be able as a district to respond in an appropriate way to where our staff and students are safe, regardless of where we are. And that’s why we do these drills.”