GAMBIER — The written bomb threat found in a bathroom stall at Wiggin Street Elementary School on Monday remains under investigation, according to Knox County Sheriff David Barber.
College Township Fire Chief Bill Smith said his department responded to the school Monday, fully prepared to deal with the emergency.
The school had been the site of recent lockdown drills for handling such an emergency, which Smith and Brian Hess of the Knox County Emergency Management Agency said was a big advantage to the first responders at the scene.
“Today’s situation just compounded the fact that we need to be on a first-name basis so that in situations like this, communications and expectations are as good as they can possibly be,” Hess said Monday. “Wiggin Street did really well with the initial lockdown drill, and just a few weeks ago we did a surprise lockdown that went very well.”
Smith said a recent drill at Wiggin Street was completely unannounced.
“It was definitely a surprise to them,” the chief said. “It went real well.”
Hess, who participated in the surprise drill, agreed.
“There were kids throughout the building involved in different activities, but they were all gathered together and put in secure locations,” he said.
Following Monday’s bomb threat, Hess and Smith said they believed the drills helped prepare the Wiggin Street students and staff for the evacuation and lockdown.
“The more you practice emergency scenarios, the better your operation in emergency situations,” Hess said.
Smith pointed out the serious nature of the hoax, which he said may not be fully appreciated by the individual(s) involved in the phony threat.
“They need to understand that the whole time all of our equipment and personnel were tied up at the school, they kept us from being able to respond to real emergencies which may have happened other places in the district,” he said.
Because EMS and fire equipment were needed to stage at the school, both squad and fire runs would have been affected.