First Responders Partner with Schools Across the State to Prep for Active Shooter Scenarios

Emergency responders loading drill participant into ambulance
Thursday, August 16, 2018 - 3:08pm

Encountering an active assailant is not a situation anyone wants to be in, but it is something we need to be prepared for. That’s exactly what NC first responders across several North Carolina counties have been doing this summer. The goal of these drills is to test emergency responders’ abilities to react and recover during an active shooter scenario and practice lifesaving measures.

Nash County Community College in Rocky Mount was transformed into the joint command location for one of these summer drills on August 7. Emergency vehicles from 15 agencies, including Nash and Edgecombe County Emergency Services, Rocky Mount Fire Department, law enforcement, NC Emergency Management and State Highway Patrol, filled the parking lot, as 100+ participating representatives were briefed and discussed the strategy of the day. 

The five-hour exercise began at Nash Central High School at 8:30 am, which also involved Nash Central students and teachers. The addition of civilian participants ensured the exercise would be as authentic as possible for first responders.

The drill began with contact teams arriving at the scene with the primary objective to locate, control and subdue the shooter. After the scene was secured, a Rescue Task Force entered the school to determine casualties and provide immediate basic medical care to injured victims. The drill concluded after all civilian participants had been transported to the “reunification site,” Nash County Community College, and Nash Central was declared secure.

In addition to the Nash County training, Edgecombe and Brunswick County have also held similar drills with their personnel. 

Active assailant drills are not only helpful for first responders. Nash Central students and teachers who partnered with law enforcement agencies in the drill had the opportunity to think on their feet and assess how they would react in an active shooter situation.

Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks shares important tips on what to do if you confront an active shooter in a NC DPS educational video. Preparing for this situation starts with three words: Run, hide and fight. These words form the basis of how to protect yourself and those around you if you hear shots fired in your location or see an individual with a firearm.


Locate and take the safest escape route available. When fleeing an active shooter situation, leave your valuables and encourage others to leave the area with you.

If evacuation is not possible, find a room with a door that can be locked or a large object to hide behind that is outside the shooter’s view. When hiding, silence your cell phone and turn out any lights in a room.

As a last resort, commit to fighting to save your life. Use objects around you and act with physical aggression to incapacitate the shooter if they approach you. Once first responders arrive, keep your hands visible, avoid pointing or shouting and remain calm.

It is vital to always be alert and ready wherever you are. If you witness suspicious activity, immediately report it to the NCISAAC hotline at 1-888-624-7222 or

Kirsten Barber