Is simulated gunfire overkill in a campus emergency drill? Georgia Perimeter College will find out Monday.

Sounds like Georgia Perimeter College is practicing for Armageddon.

In this note to staffers, GPC President Anthony Tricoli warns them that a practice emergency response simulation on Monday will involve  “simulated gunfire, and you will see the omnipresent yellow ‘Crime Scene’  tape along with some simulated smoke.”

Obviously, the Virginia Tech shootings have made all colleges more aware of the dangers of one deranged student with a gun. Sounds like this simulation is going to reflect a worse case scenario.

If you are around the Decatur campus of Georgia Perimeter at 1 p.m., be forewarned. (This would not be the hour to take your high school senior to see the campus.)

Dear Colleagues:

As all of you know, Public Safety is a critical and essential component of any successful and safe learning institution. Recently, I directed our Public Safety Department to conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of our emergency response preparedness. In addition I have asked for specialized training for all GPC personnel who are deemed ”first responders”.

It is now time to test our emergency response systems with a simulated emergency. The first emergency response exercise is scheduled for July 26, 2010 at our Decatur Campus sometime around 1 p.m. There will be similar exercises that will take place at all GPC locations. This will be a TEST of our emergency response capabilities, and I have asked for it to be as realistic as possible. So you should expect to see some very realistic activities occurring on the day of training. Please know that no real ammunition will be used in this simulation, however; you will hear simulated gunfire, and you will see the omnipresent yellow “Crime Scene” tape along with some simulated smoke. You will also observe our Public Safety personnel in a tactical response mode reacting to the emergency.

In addition to our own first responders, the emergency response exercise will utilize additional support assets from DeKalb County Fire/Rescue, which include selected members of their Special Operations Team. There will be a number of emergency vehicles present and the Decatur location will be cordoned off to include critical areas such as Triage, Safe Zones, Public Information, and Media. A “simulated” area for concerned family members of faculty, staff and students may also be established.

It is important to note that during all exercises there will be no live ammunition or explosive devices used and at no time will GPC personnel, students or the community be in danger.

The safety of our faculty, staff and students is our # 1 job in these simulated exercises. The only way to ensure we are ready and capable to respond is to (1) simulate the worst case scenario, (2) respond with appropriate action and (3) evaluate the exercise with a thorough after action review. I appreciate your understanding during these simulation exercises.

I also appreciate your participation and input, and look forward to a successful and productive exercise.

I’ll see you soon!


36 comments Add your comment

Get the word out

July 24th, 2010
2:27 am

Better hope some locked and loaded bystander doesn’t hear shots ringing out and tries to be a hero.

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HS Teacher

July 24th, 2010
6:19 am

This is the gun toting South. I can easily see someone hearing this and pulling out their own gun – which would only lead to trouble. I think GPC is just looking for PR op.


July 24th, 2010
7:39 am

I agree with Getthe word out and HS Teacher – there will be someone in the area who hasn’t gotten the memo.


July 24th, 2010
7:58 am

a better plan would be for students to be invited to the local police pistol range and listen to live fire there.

One of the things some VT students said after that was they thought it was someone using a hammer. If someone has never heard gunfire, I guess it could be confusing, but if a person has ever been in it; gunfire makes a distinct sound and if learning this small item could save a few lives lets do it.


July 24th, 2010
8:07 am

In the four months the Supreme Court had the handgun law on their table this year, 10,000 Americans died from firearms.

More than overkill, this drill on Monday is yet another ‘feel good’ moment society can have concerning the issue without actually doing a darn thing about it.

Hank Williams Jr.

July 24th, 2010
9:16 am

I’ll have my guns with me Monday, and if they shoot at me I’ll blow em away……….


July 24th, 2010
11:27 am

“On average someone is killed by a drunk driver every 45 minutes. In 2008, an estimated 11,773 people died in drunk driving related crashes” MADD

lets go back to prohibition and make driving cars while impaired illegal, that way no one will do it

Larry Major

July 24th, 2010
11:29 am

This is the correct way to train and test a tactical response team.

When we tested the evacuation plan for a company with a couple hundred employees, we’d do things like randomly hide an employee as they were leaving – just to make sure the department supervisors would admit their head count was one short. You’d be surprised how a few touches of real world can eliminate the festive atmosphere that frequently plagues a planned drill.

Ros Dalton

July 24th, 2010
11:54 am

Yes it’s overkill. What would happen if the students couldn’t tell it was fake and all pulled their own guns to return fire?

More seriously, what exactly is the purpose of this again? I find it very difficult to believe that a grand and expensive ’simulation’ of this type has any real impact on preparedness.

Ole Guy

July 24th, 2010
1:41 pm

Why not go to Benning School for Boys and get some of those simulators. They make the ground shake without benefit of shrapnel.

Some bonehead administrator wants to capture the confusion of the real deal…good in the controlled environs of Benning, very very bad idea in a public venue.

President Tricoli needs to be firmly reminded that he is paid to make sound decisions, not reckless overtures.


July 24th, 2010
4:31 pm

Where are EOCT scores

July 24th, 2010
6:16 pm

I realize this is extremely off-topic, but the delay in the State DOE releasing the Math I and Math II EOCT scores is incredible. The local school systems have had then since the first of July. What gives? Are they really that bad???

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

July 24th, 2010
6:57 pm

I’ve met GPC police chief Nick Marinelli and he is an experienced, no-nonsense cop. There is no way to be ready for anything, but you HAVE TO TRAIN IN AS REALISTIC A WAY AS POSSIBLE. This statement by Tricoli is not a PR stunt; it’s a prudent heads-up to everyone who might wonder what the sounds and smoke are all about. Imagine if they’d done this drill without warning anyone and a misunderstanding had occurred and a student was hurt. You’d all be calling for Tricoli’s head on a platter.
I’m constantly amazed at the lack of common sense shown by certain posters on this blog. Think there’ll never be another on-campus shooting? If and when there is one, do you want a quick, practiced response or don’t you?


July 24th, 2010
11:19 pm

This exercise will take place during summer break. The only students on campus will be new sudents taking placement tests and/or registering for fall semester classes. It’s also unlikely that many faculty members will be on hand. So this would seem to be for the benefit of GPC staff. And you can bet Tricoli will get his smiling mug in more than a few photos.


July 25th, 2010
8:44 am

Well at one time I might have said overkill but not anymore. We had a gunfight at our school a number of years ago. When the gun went off I actually started into the hall because I heard the yelling and scuffling among students and didn’t know what it was. The students in my class told me it was a gun and we went into instant lockdown before it went over the loudspeaker.

No this is not overkill. I totally agree with a previous poster that if you’ve never heard gunfire up close it could never occur to you this is really happening. Anyone who’s ever worked with students knows how fast stuff happens so a proper response is critical.

Ole Guy

July 25th, 2010
2:43 pm

Susan, you have illuminated a very real, albiet a very sad reality in today’s schools.

Many many years ago, as a young Soldier at Ft Bragg, I made a similar observation to that which you refer. As you may or may not know, every morning, in the military, is greeted with the raising of the Flag of the United States of America. Following the accompaniment of the appropriate bugle call, a cannon is fired in recognition of the Colors being raised, (or lowered, as the time of day may dictate).

Some of the men in my Company, recently returned from Viet Nam, would, upon hearing the cannon, “hit the dirt”.

While a natural reflex in battle conditions, is this the survival tactic which should be taught to kids barely old enough to shave? I argue neither for nor against such preparations, but rather the sad, almost deplorable conditions which have been allowed to permeat the very fabric of the once-upon-a-time innocense of youth. Of course, back in the 50s, there were the duck-and-cover drills in reaction to the “Red Menace” of the day.

So, unfortunately, “The Beat Goes On” (Sonney and Cher).

Child of the 60s

July 25th, 2010
5:42 pm

Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.


July 25th, 2010
7:02 pm

Why is this news? This is done on college campuses throughout the state and the nation. These drills are very helpful to LEOs and other emergency responders.

Should we stop fire drills because someone might trip and fall evacuating the building?

Come on AJC… do you have any news to report?


July 26th, 2010
9:57 am

This is a really bad idea. How on earth can they be certain that EVERYONE on campus during this drill will know it’s a drill. For those who don’t – this “fake gunfire” will be terrifying. It’s unnecessary and over the top and will have a bad reaction at some point. Besides – this is bad PR – who really wants to attend a college where they think it’s necessary to practice a shootout?


July 26th, 2010
10:40 am

Real guns and real bullets should be used.

nutty shell

July 26th, 2010
11:12 am

if they want a really good drill; make it a no win situtation.

have backpacks/toolbox etc… in some hallways with cell phones in them if a team passes them and the cell phone rings that team has to stop, lay down, and become part of the wounded.

have a parked school bus loaded with sandbags parked near a main entrance; when firetrucks, swat trucks show anything within say 100 feet of the parked school bus is taken off line and can not be used for the rest of the drill, all within that zone are also wounded

i know this is extreme but this is what our soldiers have to think of every single day


July 26th, 2010
11:27 am

GPC Clarkston has three large auditoriums where mandatory emergency training films could be shown to students, faculty and staff. Members of the GPC police would also need to be on hand to provide additional information and answer questions. Why wouldn’t that be sufficient? Why is it necessary to simulate actual emergencies with gunfire?

Ole Guy

July 26th, 2010
3:58 pm

Redweather, you make a whole lot of sense. Bring in the experts; let them decide how best to drive the point(s) home without having to conduct an FTX/Field Training Exercise. If the experts feel that some degree of realism, within a student body of questionable discipline, would work, let them run the show.

fishing guy

July 26th, 2010
4:16 pm

I have worked in emergency planning for twenty five years. I was police officer for twenty two years. I have been involved in an active shooter situation. Without this type of realistic training lives would be lost. Go to Google, and see just how many of these shootings happen a year. All of the negative bloggers would be surprised. As I am writing this, there is one being planned some where in this country.
Dr. Tricoli, and Chief Marinelli are brilliant for planning for the worst of the worst situations that can happen to our youth. Please folks, we do not want another Virgina Tech at one of our schools in Georgia.


July 26th, 2010
5:03 pm

Hey fishing guy, you are right on target. Red weather knows a lot about the college, and obviously works at GPC. It is apparent he has no knowlege in police work. I hope he could sleep at night, if there was no training, and a shooting happened. The blood would be on his hands. Train real, respond real. Most people do not realize that this is mandated training for higher education.

bootney farnsworth

July 26th, 2010
5:05 pm

seems most of you haven’t been to any of our campuses.
two are safe, two are in really tough neighborhoods.

with the new concealed gun law allowing folks to carry on
campus, it would be criminal NOT to have this exercise.

anyone remember Columbine? and how the cops just sat for
hours because their training was outdated and unrelated to
what was actually occuring?

bootney farnsworth

July 26th, 2010
5:08 pm

a) there are almost no students on campus.
b) if you’ve never heard gunfire going on around you, then
you have no idea how loud and disorienting it can be.
c) the drill is for the GPC cops, NOT the staff.

get a clue, people.

bootney farnsworth

July 26th, 2010
5:10 pm

@ coach,

the issue isn’t why Tricoli is doing this now, its why
it took so long for us to have this in the first place.

this should be an annual event.

bootney farnsworth

July 26th, 2010
5:27 pm

still, I can’t help but wonder if Tricoli needs one of these
on his resume to get his next job


July 26th, 2010
6:18 pm

Bootney, who cares if he needs it for a resume? ( I dought it) The fact is Dr. Tricoli, and his staff are doing it now. Get off the hate you have for the college, and attempt to focus on the safety, of the students and staff. You are correct, the training is for the public safety at GPC. A well trained police Dept. will act properly in emergency situations. Also bootney, the police train outside of campus, on other emergency situations. Bootney, I am fair, and opened minded guy, however you have a lot of hate for one man. I notice this in your blogs. I am sure you can change you blog name around, but be honest, and try to attempt from being negative. This article is about carnage that could happen, not about one person. I am sure with the new Police Chief, this will be an annual event, and should be. Bootney Columbine was a new safe campus. Don’t under estimate the sick people in the world. This could happen any where.


July 26th, 2010
9:13 pm

I truly feel for you people who do not understand the value of this drill. Today, the scenario went off without a hitch. The officers who participated in the training learned a lot about what could happen and how important decision making skills are in a fast-paced situation such as this. I hope that all Board of Regents schools follow suite and create their own active shooter exercise.

As for House Bill 308, which allows PERMITTED firearms owners to have their weapons IN THEIR VEHICLES ONLY, take a look at some numbers. People who have permits to carry weapons are not the nutcases. They are not out holding up liquor stores with their legally purchased and legally owned weapons. These are the people who stop these sort of things from happening. If a campus is ever attacked, I hope that some of these NON-CRIMINALS have the gumption to go to their vehicles, grab their guns, and HELP the good guys.

Ole Guy

July 26th, 2010
9:29 pm

Ya know Coach, I completely agree, they’s a lota sick folks on this here blue bb in space. From the stuff I’ve read and observed, I don’t put nuthin past nobody. While there are many opinions on the wisdom of holding “full-dress rehearsals”, repleat with sound effects, I think we can all agree on one common practice which many may neither understand nor exercise…SITUATIONAL AWARENESS. We see it every day: people crossing busy streets, looking either straight ahead or at their feet, people at supermarkets focusing on the displays while their backs are turned toward carts with purses, valuables etc.

As we go about our daily doings, there’s generally quite a bit of humanity going about their biding as well. It makes perfect sense (to me, anyway) to maintain some sort of “low level” awareness. Approaching a vehicle at night, for example, it makes sense to notice the shadows of trees. As long as I see only the shadows of trees, I have to assume a relatively low threat posture. If I see shadows which look like neither trees nor cars, my “threat antenna” goes on “high scan”…I go on “DEFCON 2″.

The key is to avoid situations involving the potential need for DEFCON 2 (eminent battle). This means looking for that speeding car, avoid the road rage scenario, recognize that probably 99.9% of the people in that crowd are, like you and me, simply going about their business and want only to tend to theirs’.

Personally, in emergency drills employing the crack of simulated gun fire among the general public, I see more potential for unintended disaster than the intended learning objectives. This is why public service organizations…police, fire fighters, etc…have training compounds where they can set buildings, aircraft, etc afire, where they can activate “noise makers” in the interest of capturing realism. Conduct this type of training, with any kind of realism, in areas to which the general public has access and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Ole Guy

July 26th, 2010
9:41 pm

Concerned, are you suggesting that people who purchase and license weapons FOR THE PURPOSE OF SELF DEFENSE should be prepared to switch to an offensive mode in order to help the good guys? Sounds good in theory…if you’re Charles Bronson.

The best thing, Concerned, you can do is maintain “passive sonar”…that low-level state of situational awareness. If you wanna join gun battles, Benning School for Boys has just the program you’re looking for…they’ll even provide the rounds.


July 26th, 2010
9:50 pm

Ole Guy, you either have law enforcement, or a militarry back ground. One thing you have missed. There was no general public involved, the role players were advised about what to except. Using blank rounds, or sub munition rounds accomplishes the same the effect as you wrote about. The exercise was indoors, no threat,or idea that the general public would know about. It was a great learning experiance from all law enforcemrnt agencies. This training is designed for law enforcements response to these types of calls. It is a great thing that GPC’S leadership, and administration are thinking ahead, and planning for the worse. Hope to God it never happens. Ole guy, you are wise in your thinking.

Ole Guy

July 27th, 2010
2:18 am

Thanks Coach…I appreciate the clarifications. Given the scenario you describe, I wholeheartedly endorse the entire training objective.