‘Prevent and help anybody’: Local officials training for worst-case scenarios as school returns

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — The typically empty halls of the old Finley Road Elementary School building in Rock Hill hosted some unusual activity on Monday.

Deputies with the York County Sheriff’s Office rushed through the halls, past vacant classrooms, with one goal.

“Respond to gunfire and try to stop it,” said Lieutenant Stephen Ramsey.

Ramsey says each deputy is acting as the first person to respond to a school shooting.

They’re equipped with guns designed to mimic the sounds of real gunshots, are donning safety gear and received a pep talk from the lieutenant.

“There is no one else, its just you,” he said.

Once the “pop, pop, pop” of the simulated gunfire starts, the deputies are off to find the shooter.

Instructors are right there too, keeping track of response times and maneuvers that could make or break a situation like this.

“If he’s no longer a threat, then I may separate him from the gun and help the injured people,” Ramsey said.

That’s not an easy feat.

Channel 9′s Anthony Kustura tried it our for himself. The noise, combined with all the gunpowder, makes it difficult to focus and breathe.

Kustura completed the drill, shooting his target, but this was just a test. A real life scenario would be much more intense.

Deputy Donta McClure will start next month as a resource officer at Independence Elementary School.

He says the training allows deputies to make any mistakes before their lives -- and those of hundreds of students and staff -- are truly on the line.

“The more training you get to do, the better experienced you’ll be when reality comes to it,” McClure said.

Even York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson went through the exercise. He said after the tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Texas, training like this ensures his deputies are prepared.

“The reality of what today is, and what we may face, and what we may have to do,” he said.

The training is done for today, but will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday. The sheriff said it doesn’t just prepare for school shooting scenarios, but the techniques can also be applied to a shooting at businesses or churches, if that happens.

Tourniquet training

School district leaders in Burke County are learning life-saving measures before the start of the school year next week.

The county is looking at making thousands of tourniquets to place in classrooms across the district.

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty spoke with school leaders about the initiative and how a local hospital is helping with the effort.

The district and paramedics from Burke County EMS said homemade tourniquets can be made for less than a dollar.

The hope is to have several in each classroom when school kicks off on next Monday.

A “Stop the Bleed” training in Morganton for Burke County school administrators was the first step in preparing leaders for a worst-case scenario.

Superintendent Mike Swan told Channel 9 the preparation is important after recent shootings in schools, but also for other emergencies that can happen during a school year.

“Of course, Uvalde, Texas, was on everybody’s mind, then we started to think broader, bleacher collapse, major catastrophe, roof fall off, auto accident, shop classes, things like that,” he said. “We could prevent and help anybody.”

Burke County EMS and sheriff’s deputies taught the administrators how to pack wounds, properly place tourniquets and deal with chest wounds to stop someone from bleeding out.

They found out how a simple tourniquet can be applied in under a minute and how it can save a person’s life.

Captain Brad Browning with Burke County EMS said UNC Health Blueridge is proving a $20,000 grant to the district to buy medical supplies and make tourniquets. The grant will go toward buying actual kits for each school with the following items: One C-A-T tourniquet, one emergency trauma dressing, two rolls of compressed gauze dressing, two pair nitrile gloves, one pair of trauma shears, one permanent marker, one just in time instruction card, one PVC bleeding control patch.

The district will offer the tourniquet trainings to teachers on a voluntary basis, Swan said.

(WATCH BELOW: Lancaster County schools to start watch program this year to increase safety)