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Allenstown prepares for worst with school-shooting drill

ALLENSTOWN — Shaun Mulholland wants his emergency officials to be prepared, should a nightmare scenario present itself. With that in mind, he’s organized a live-shooter drill at Armond Dupont School.

The exercise, one of two emergency simulations scheduled for this year, takes place Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We’ve had this school exercise planned for at least a year,” said Mulholland, Allenstown’s Town Administrator and Emergency Management Director. “We’ll be evaluated on an active-shooter scenario and the ability of the police to respond to such a situation, as well as how school officials handle it and how our fire department and paramedics manage a mass-casualty event.”

Mulholland said residents should expect numerous police, fire and emergency medical service (EMS) vehicles traveling to and from Armond Dupont School, in addition to many volunteer actors, some of whom will be feigning panic. None of the area roads will be closed, though there will be limited access to the school’s parking lot.

The objective, he said, is to train emergency responders from Allenstown and surrounding communities – such as Hooksett, Epsom, and Pembroke – which offer mutual aid, to ensure that they are as prepared as possible for the unthinkable.“Obviously, these types of incidents don’t occur with great frequency, so it’s important to test our ability to respond and have public safety professionals evaluating our performance,” said Mulholland. “I think this is critical to the town.”

Following the exercise, Mulholland will receive and distribute an after-action review, which he said highlights what went right, what went wrong, and which equipment and procedures may be upgraded to improve the town’s emergency response.

“We’ve gotten a lot out of these exercises and found a number of things we do well and also discovered a number of areas where are weak,” he said. “We’d much prefer to find out now than during an actual incident, where the results of our deficiencies could be tragic.”

Mulholland, the town’s former police chief, who has long served as Allenstown Emergency Management Director, began using federal grant money eight years ago to fund emergency exercises, an opportunity of which he said few local communities take advantage.

Later this year, Allenstown has another similar exercise planned in which the town’s emergency operations center — located at the fire station — will be used to simulate a disaster such as a blizzard or tornado.


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