Roscommon County Practices Emergency Response with Mock Disaster

A large number of police, ambulances, and fire personnel were on hand Saturday at one Northern Michigan school system.

It wasn’t for an emergency, but to train and practice should there ever be one.

A large-scale training throughout Houghton Lake Schools was done in the hopes of increasing school safety.

Over 200 people, including firefighters, state police, and many other departments responded to a ‘mock incident of violence.’

“Number one, we want to make sure that everybody who traveled by the high school knows that this was just a drill.,” said John Card, post-commander for the Houghton Lake Michigan State Police.

And not just any drill.

Today, authorities in Houghton Lake practiced for something a bit bigger.

“This was a large-scale incident and it was obviously an exercise, but to bring everybody together like this on their day off, this is how important the people feel,” Card said. “This is volunteer time just to get everybody in.”

‘Everybody’ meaning around 20 different departments and offices.

Working together, a plan moved forward for the live training in the form of a ‘mock’ disaster.

“When you entail multiple disciplines from fire [departments], EMS, law enforcement and then civilians into one plan, there’s potential for a lot of problems with everybody operating in the same format but today went very smooth and all of the agencies were able to work very well together,” said Edward Stern, Roscommon County Under-sheriff.

“I could see in the responders that were coming [that] they took it very seriously,” Card said. “They were asking very good questions. They were responding as they would. You could see some people were nervous as they would be in a real, live situation and that’s exactly what we wanted.”

Authorities didn’t do all of the work, either.

Many students from the area volunteered play the role of victim to help make their schools safer.

With such a large plan, it is easy for the surrounding community to see an impact, too.

“I think it’s multi-faceted,” Scott Dunsmore, Houghton Lake Schools superintendent, said. “I think the community is going to be happy that we’ve taken the time to practice a routine like this.”

Looking ahead, a plan to make kids safer in their schools can only be a good thing.

“Student safety is one of our number one concerns at the sheriff’s office,” Stern said. “They are our future, they are our kids. Someone needs to protect them.”

The active violent incidents responders plan is built to be an annual test to keep their practices up to date.