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First responders, Leon County Schools conduct reunification drill during active shooter training

Trainings held at Chiles, Godby high schools
Posted at 8:23 PM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 20:27:45-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County Schools, along with the Leon County Sheriff's Office, the Tallahassee Police Department, and other first responder agencies worked together to find the best way of reuniting parents with students in case of a mass evacuation at one of the school system's campuses.

Thursday morning's training scenario involved an active shooter.

"I was one of the last people to be called and I was told that my child had been wounded in the active shooting incident," Sarah Cheatham said.

Cheatham, a Florida State University student, volunteered to play the part of a parent to help first responders practice communicating with parents if a real situation were to happen.

Even though it was just a drill, Cheatham says the emotions were real as she fought back tears.

"I think acknowledging the amount of time I had to spend alone all day, including that moment finding out my son was just shot and I had to go to the hospital," Cheatham said.

Cheatham spent a considerable amount of time alone in a room during the training.

The Sheriff's Office says that was one of the communication flaws experienced on Thursday afternoon.

With a lot of moving parts that go into these types of situations, Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil says those problems and other communication errors proves why these types of trainings are so important.

"We've had a plan for many years, but we've never had an opportunity to actually respond and so I wanted to make sure that plan we had in writing actually works, and that's what we did today," McNeil said.

At the end of the day - however - Leon County Schools District Superintendent Rocky Hanna says parents can leave their kids at school and know they're safe.

"They are safe, our schools are safe, and we take the responsibility of keeping them safe extremely seriously," Hanna said.