BISD police to coordinate emergency responders during active shooter exercise Aug. 13 at high school

BEEVILLE – Chief Art Gamez of the Beeville Independent School District Police Department is asking city residents not to panic on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

“You’ll hear sirens and see emergency vehicles responding toward the high school that day,” Gamez said. “But we’ll be holding an exercise. It will not be an emergency.”

Gamez and his canine officer, Ryan Treviño, explained that every emergency provider and law enforcement agency in Bee County will be involved in the exercise.

That will include troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Bee County Emergency Management personnel, deputies with the Bee County Sheriff’s Office, county constables, firefighters with the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department and officers with the Beeville Police Department.

Others who will be involved in the exercise will be emergency medical technicians with the city’s and county’s 911 emergency medical service provider, Angel Care Ambulance Service, personnel from Christus Spohn Hospital and officers with the BISD and Coastal Bend College police departments.

Gamez said members of Bee County’s rural fire departments also have been invited to participate in the exercise.

Treviño said the entire staff at A.C. Jones High School and several students also will be involved in the exercise, serving as actors.

All streets around the A.C. Jones High School campus will be closed to traffic between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. that day, Treviño said.

The closed streets will include the 1900 block of North Adams Street in front of the school, along with Trojan Joe Drive, North Filmore and East Inez streets.

Treviño, Gamez and BISD Officer Carmen Rojas explained that the exercise will involve an active shooter at the high school.

“The first step will be to test the response of the our police department,” Treviño said.

Then the other agencies and departments will be called in to test their roles in an emergency.

Gamez and Treviño said the goal is to get the agencies and departments trained on how to work together in an emergency situation.

“Once we do that we will be able to conduct the same type of response at any other location, within the city or throughout the county,” the chief said.

A unified command center will be established quickly, and heads of all the responders will be able to gather in one location and receive reports and issue commands to their personnel.

The purpose of the central location is to have all coordinating personnel working together so that each agency or department can know exactly where everyone is and what is going on during an emergency.

Gamez said the first concerns in an emergency situation will be to stop the threat.

“Our biggest objective is saving lives,” Gamez said.

“What we’re trying to do is work on a response as a team to accomplish a mission together,” Gamez said.

“It’s going to be chaotic,” the chief commented. “There will be a lot of moving parts.”

Although the public will not be taking part in the exercise, Beeville residents can play an important part in its success by staying away from the JHS campus that day and by not calling emergency services to find out what is happening.

Gamez warned that the normal emergency radio channels will be used by those taking part in the exercise so residents who have scanners will hear traffic on them that could cause concern.

“Remember,” Gamez urged, “it will all be part of the exercise.”

It was scheduled for Aug. 13 to give emergency responders a chance to train for an emergency scenario before classes begin on Aug. 19.

The streets will be blocked with barricades keep traffic away from the immediate area around the high school campus.

Streets will be reopened as soon as the exercise is complete.

The BISD police chief offered to answer any questions anyone might have before Aug. 13. He said anyone who needs information about the exercise may call him at 358-7111 and ask for his office.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.