The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) will host “Operation Extra Credit,” a two-day active shooter drill for select schools in the territory that will begin at 1 p.m., Thursday, March 19. The event will provide an opportunity for the territory to test its readiness to respond to an active shooter incident at a school.
It is a collaboration of the Office of the Governor, V.I. Department of Education, VI Fire Services, Emergency Medical Services, VI Police Department, Bureau of Information Technology, Office of Senator Steven D. Payne Sr., Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital, Gov. Roy L. Schneider Medical Center and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Active shooter response scenarios will take place simultaneously at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School and the St. Croix Educational Complex at 1 p.m. on March 19. A similar scenario-based drill will take place at the Julius Sprauve Elementary School at 1 p.m. on March 20.
“We are going to treat this as a real time event,” said VITEMA Director Daryl D. Jaschen. “Simulating a real event is necessary to polish our emergency plans – by running hypothetical scenarios, we can test what works and what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly before the event occurs.”
Residents in the immediate vicinity of the schools will receive wireless emergency alert notices. This will help VITEMA test the technological capability of alerting those within a specific radius of a threat. All residents will not receive the message; however, everyone should be aware that this drill will take place and not be alarmed by any sounds or peculiar activity on the campuses.
“The more we practice these drills, the more we have an idea of how to respond and mitigate active threats,” said Jaschen. “We need our students, staff and emergency response personnel to have the confidence to withstand and react to such an event.”
Active Shooters events typically last 10 minutes and residents are urged to be proactive during an active shooter event by adhering to the following tips:
- Run, Hide, Fight – the best first action is to run away from the threat if possible. If you cannot run, hide behind something that can protect from bullets and shrapnel. As a last resort, if there are no other options, you must fight with aggression.
- Lock doors or barricade entrances and call 911 immediately.
- Create an obstacle course between you and the shooter by piling desks, chairs or large objects to buy time until rescue arrives.
- Become a difficult target – the shooter only has 10 minutes to cause damage, the harder it is to target you, the less likely you will be pursued.