Glen Oaks and SJC Sheriff’s Office conduct joint disaster drill

Representatives from Glen Oaks Community College and the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Office conducted a joint emergency preparedness drill on Tuesday, Feb. 9, to provide college employees and local and state law enforcement agencies the opportunity to practice responding to an active shooter incident on campus.

Participants from public safety and medical response agencies in the county also played a role in the staged event. “This is the first time that we have conducted an active shooter drill on campus,” said T. J. Baker, director of emergency services for St. Joseph County and coordinator of the event. “This is as much a drill for our law enforcement employees as it is for the employees at the college.”

“We purposely selected a day when there were no classes due to a Faculty In-Service,” said Baker. “By doing so, it allowed everyone to better focus on their roles should an active shooter incident occur.”

“This is really an effort to protect everyone, our employees and students, in case of a real emergency,” said Pam Cary, Glen Oaks human resources director. “In light of recent shootings on college campuses, faculty and staff at the college have attended active shooter training sessions to obtain the tools and knowledge necessary to guide them in what to do in case of a real emergency.”

As part of the drill, radio communications were conducted on a different frequency so as not to tie up the 911 communications.

“We hope to learn where the strengths and weaknesses are from this scenario,” said Baker, who conducted a debriefing following the drill with all participants.”

Participating in the drill were: St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Office; police departments from Centreville, Three Rivers, Constantine, White Pigeon, Mendon, Colon and Burr Oak; Sturgis Public Safety Dept., Michigan State Police, Three Rivers Health and Sturgis Hospital; the fire departments from Centreville, Three Rivers, and Tri-County Township, and West Michigan Air Care and LifeCare Ambulance Service.

Glen Oaks Community College is a quality provider of education programs serving the needs of residents and businesses of St. Joseph County and beyond. The College, established in 1965, sits on 300 acres of land in rural Centreville, Michigan. GOCC offers 18 associate degree programs and 19 certificate programs. The student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1 affords students personal attention and provides opportunities to for them to accomplish their goals and grow and succeed in a supportive, ethical and academic environment.