Edgar County emergency responders have a practice drill during the morning of May 10.
It is a serious topic as law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs and other public safety officials test protocols in case a school shooting ever occurs in Paris. It is regrettable such training is necessary, but that is a topic for another time.
What is important now is for all members of the public to be aware of the training, not jump to conclusions and spread undue panic on social media during the drill.
The training is expected to occur between 9:45 and 11:30 a.m. at the Illinois National Guard’s Field Maintenance Shop on High School Road, near Paris High School. Flashing red lights at the scene may create a false impression that something bad is happening at the high school.
It is not at the high school.
It is a drill. Do not panic.
As the drill gets underway, the Edgar County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency will post on its Facebook page that a training exercise is underway, plus send email and text messages on the WENS alert system. Paris High School is also expected to notify parents via mass texts/e-mails that a drill is underway and no danger threatens students, faculty and staff at the high school. Similar warnings are expected on social media sites operated by the emergency services.
Between now and then, members of the community can help by discussing the training event as often as possible so even more people are aware of what is happening Thursday morning. One uninformed person, rushing to post something on social media without verifying what is happening can trigger others to react from fear.
The other thing the public can do to help with the training is stay off High School Road. The entire training scenario occurs inside the building at the Guard’s facility and will not be visible. Gawkers lining High School Road hoping to see something will be disappointed and only add to the congestion as emergency vehicles move in and out of the site as part of the drill. Stay home, there is nothing to see.
Emergency responders know how sensitive the idea of a school shooting is and every effort is being made to inform the public well in advance in hopes of minimizing a mistaken assumption about what is occurring during the drill.
The public can help by quickly responding to any ill-informed social media posts May 10 by reiterating a drill is taking place.