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Medford School District, partners to conduct major public safety drill Thursday

 Four people, three men and one woman, stand behind a large wooden model of a two-story school. Behind them are large posters with a lot of pictures and text.
Roman Battaglia
Jefferson Public Radio
Medford School District and police officials stand behind a model of Oakdale Middle School, which outlines the plan for the public safety drill. From Left to right: Executive Director of Security Ron Havniear, District Superintendent Bret Champion, District Public Information Officer Natalie Hurd and Medford Police Chief Justin Ivens

The Medford School District, along with more than 30 other groups and agencies, is conducting a day-long public safety drill Thursday to prepare for incidents such as an active shooter. This will be the first time an exercise like this has happened in the Rogue Valley.

The drill will test local police, fire and medical response to scenarios including an active shooter, mass evacuations and reuniting students with their families. It’ll take place at Oakdale Middle School, which will be the third middle school in the district when it opens later this year.

Executive Director of Security Ron Havniear at the Medford School District said they’ve been planning this event since January, involving over 30 groups that each bring their own training needs.

“One of the first things we did is we laid out all of those training objectives," Havniear said. "These were developed by each of the different entities, so for fire and medical, we want to hit these types of objectives. For active shooters and law enforcement we want to hit these objectives."

Havniear said around 270 volunteers will be part of the drill, acting as students, teachers and parents. They’ll be acting out a number of different scenes at Oakdale Middle School involving those on-the-ground as well as high level command operations.

Medford School District Superintendent Bret Champion says this exercise will help everyone practice skills they don’t often get to use.

"Every one of our principals and assistant principals is participating in this event, not just to mechanics of it, but honestly to feel it," he said.

The district said the roads around Oakdale Middle School may be blocked off or restricted on Thursday, and expect lots of emergency services in the area.

Once the exercise is over, Havniear said the district will be able to create videos and training documents to share with other school districts and families.

After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the west coast.