Wilkes Community College, assisted by local and state law enforcement agencies, conducted a lockdown drill and test of the WCC emergency notification system on Thursday, February 22. The drill was successful and provided vital information on how college officials can strengthen emergency response efforts.

“This was a scheduled drill to test our emergency response system and not a reactionary exercise in response to the recent event in Florida,” explained Jamie McGuire, WCC’s chief of campus police. The primary purpose of the drill was twofold. First. it provided an opportunity for the college administration and campus police and security to determine the effectiveness of the mass communication system, Informacast. The system sends a message throughout campus to warn faculty, staff, students and visitors of threats to health and safety ranging from severe weather threats to a violent person on campus. The mass alert system utilizes various technologies, including telephones, emails, loud speakers and social media to quickly disseminate the emergency message. Additionally, the emergency notification is posted to the WCC homepage.

Local and state law enforcement agencies participated in the drill.

“It helps to hear an outside perspective from partnering agencies that may recognize a weakness or area that needs improvement during the drill process. and providing feedback to WCC Campus Police and Security. By participating in the drill, law enforcement personnel were able to familiarize themselves with campus and college emergency processes,” said McGuire. “And helping to monitor areas throughout the campus provides outside agencies the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the campus.”

Dr. Jeff Cox, president of Wilkes Community College, and McGuire expressed gratitude to Wilkes County Sherriff, Wilkesboro Police Department, North Wilkesboro Police Department, N.C. Highway Patrol, the State Bureau of Investigation, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Wilkesboro Fire Department for participating in Thursday’s drill.

A de-briefing took place following the drill so that participating law enforcement officers could share what they saw happening during the drill in order to recognize weaknesses and find solutions to strengthen the process.

“While some issues were identified, overall, we conducted a very successful drill today,” added McGuire. “We hope that we will never need to utilize what we learned today, but we are determined to be prepared for emergency situations as the safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is our top priority.” The drill offers the opportunity to bring in different agencies to familiarize them with the campus and with others that they may work with in the future.”

“It’s a great exercise, stated Craig Garris, Wilkesboro Chief of Police. “Having the drill with all the agencies together is important so that everyone is on the same page.”

“The last couple of years the drill has gone well,” stated Captain Mike Scott of the Wilkes County Sheriff’s office.

Law enforcement officers checked the hallways in Lowe’s Hall before confirming that the building was completely locked down.