HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Wednesday’s Active Shooter Response Training Exercise was only a drill.
But the premise of the emergency response was enough to send chills down the spine of each police officer, first responder and EMT participating.
The Auten Road Intermediate School was closed to the public from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. for the training exercise that was designed to be as realistic as possible, according to Township Police Chief Darren Powell.
The goal of the training exercise was to prepare police and emergency personnel, as well as school employees to respond in the event an active shooter should enter the school., according to Powell.
Dozens of police and first responders were presented with two scenarios each of which began with a 911 emergency call:
The first involved a gunman that had breached the school’s security, walking the hallways, entering classrooms, and firing his weapon.
There were “casualties” - students, teachers, and staff, according to Powell.
The second scenario was similar but this time, there were two gunmen wreaking havoc.
In the first scenario, the gunman was taken into custody by police.
In the second scenario, one of the gunmen surrendered to police; the second gunman was shot and “killed.”
Students from the Somerset County Police Youth Academy took time out from their classroom training to volunteer as the student “victims,” according to Powell.
Powell emphasized the precautionary nature of the drill.
“It is critical given the climate of these types of situations around the country that we train with our partners within the Township to ensure understanding of how the Police and other first responders respond in the event of an active shooter or other similar threat,” Powell said.
Several emergency vehicles were parked outside of the school during the drill.
In addition to police, the Office of Emergency Management, Hillsborough Bureau of Fire Safety, Hillsborough Township Volunteer Fire Departments, and Robert Wood Johnson-EMS will be on hand, working with employees of the Hillsborough Township Board of Education.
The training exercise was similar to those held on previous occasions at the municipal complex and the school, according to Powell.
Powell said the exercise was of enormous benefit to all who participated.
“I was very satisfied with how things went,” he said.