ELOY — It was a busy Friday morning for a couple members of the Eloy Police Department and the Eloy Fire District as they assessed local schools in an active shooter lockdown drill.
“It’s not just our responsibility anymore,” Eloy Elementary School District Superintendent Ruby James said. “I have to have involvement from you all, it’s important that we talk and dialogue when we have these meetings or when we have these lockdowns, it’s good for you to come in because I’m not the expert. I’m going to go to a whole other level of anxiety, stress, concern and worry, I’m going to be almost like the parents, but I know how to control myself in the situation and I’m going to depend on you all because you’re truly the first responders.”
All three principals and staff at Curiel Primary School, Eloy Intermediate School and Eloy Junior High School participated in active shooter lockdown training as police officers and firefighters roamed through the hallways pinpointing areas that needed to be modified and what the strengths were.
The district gave each principal a lockdown checklist that should be used each time the school practices the drill, so students and staff know what to do in order to stay safe.
Since EESD does not have school on Fridays, only staff was available for the lockdown drill.
During the drill, school staff followed protocol to close and lock all doors and windows as well as turn the lights off and remain quiet.
James also roamed the school hallways trying to trick staff into opening the door, which she did manage to accomplish on more than one occasion at different schools.
“If the voice is recognizable, do not open the door,” James said to Eloy Junior High Principal Danny Rogers. “It could be somebody who has me at gunpoint to get into a room.”
Cpl. Calvina Singleton noted that each school should get into the habit of notifying the Police Department when they are having the lockdown drill.
Detective David Crane also pointed out that some of the doors at one of the schools could be opened by easily picking the lock.
All the first responders who participated in the drill agreed that the junior high’s efforts were spot on.
Crane pointed out that the junior high was the only school that had the classrooms marked with a system that alerted them whether or not emergency assistance was needed by hanging up a green or red card.
Some aspects the schools can still work on is making sure that the restrooms are cleared when students are present during a drill and having a designated safe place as a last resort for those who can’t make it to their classroom.
There should also be a line of command established in case the principals or James are at a meeting outside of the area when something happens.
“One of the things to keep in mind and it becomes one of the hardest things to do especially because we’re all so small and we’re all so busy,” Eloy Fire District Chief Kelly Weddle said, “if an incident happens where it’s more than just the first two minutes and there’s actually an incident, we come together as a unified staff so there’s a fireman, there’s a policeman and there has to be a school representative that’s not doing all this other stuff. It has to be someone who’s glued to the hip of police and fire in that command thing because we may need to ask questions about that room or that person or that something.”