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Editorial: Training for the worst makes sense

8:37 PM, Feb. 7, 2013  |  Comments
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It has been almost two months since the world was rocked by the tragedy that forever put Newtown, Conn., on the map. The second deadliest school shooting in this nation's history still brings to mind horrific images of first responders, emergency personnel and grief-stricken parents swarming around a small school where 26 people, including 20 children, lost their lives. They are images we all try to forget.

There has been a lot of talk and some action in the wake of mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and much of it has come from President Barack Obama, members of Congress and special interest groups like the National Rifle Association. While meaningful legislation and changes may be a long way away, we applaud Rep. Chad Weininger, R-Allouez, and County Executive Troy Streckenbach, who on Thursday announced plans for a tabletop exercise later this month to prepare for the reality of a mass shooting.

While we hate to imagine that a school shooting or similar situation could happen in our own backyard, the truth is, in spite of great communities, great parents, great schools and great teachers, a mass shooting could happen just about anywhere. That is all the more reason for entities to prepare for worst-case scenarios.

A tabletop exercise involves professionals coming together to map out reactions to natural disasters, hostage situations, mass shootings and similar unplanned, dramatic events. Brown County Emergency Director Cullen Peltier will coordinate the exercise.

Weininger said the original plan was to use a natural disaster as the focal point of the exercise, but in the wake of yet another school shooting, the decision was made to change course. As difficult as it may be to imagine a mass shooting at a local school, preparing for that potential reality is something local officials can do now. We all know legislation at the federal and state level could be kicked around for months, if not years, and even the strongest laws on the books will be broken at some point. That is why it is important for local leaders to coordinate and communicate now to ensure the Green Bay area has a plan if tragedy strikes.

The comments made by emergency personnel following the Sandy Hook shooting were haunting. Veteran police officers described seeing a classroom filled with the bodies of young victims, a scene no person should ever have to process. Yet police officers, firefighters, paramedics and school administrators are human, and preparing to deal with a horrific situation is not easy, but necessary.

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