MARSHALL COUNTY, Okla. -- Emergency officials recently spent a week in Maryland learning how to handle catastrophic events like an explosion at school. On Wednesday, they put their skills to the test with a surprise drill at Madill's Early Childhood Center.
"We walked in handed them a piece of paper telling them they had a major gas leak in the cafeteria."
Those are the words of Marshall County Emergency Manager Hubert Weaver, and that was the scenario faced by staff at Madill's Early Childhood Center Wednesday morning. It was all part of a drill to prepare them for potential emergencies, and it was a scenario that no one expected.
"She immedatley evactuated called 911 once they got them evactuated turned right around handed another piece of paper telling them they had an explosion," Weaver said.
While there was no real explosion, Weaver says the drill tested staff's ability to deal with a crisis situation.
Weaver and Madill school officials had been planning this surprise safety drill for the past month. School officials informed parents about the drill this morning, but staff members were not informed, so their emergency preparedness would be put to the test.
"We feel it's really important to make sure every site is prepared...our intention is to have some sort of full scale drill at our facilities this school year," said Cindy Dodds with the Federal Program of Madill Schools.
School officials called the drill a success, but added that communication between school staff and emergency personnel needs improvement.
All the young students in the center were evacuated. As you can see in these photos, responders then turned their attention to 17 high school students, brought in specifically to portray victims of the explosion.
Several of them were taken to a local hospital to see how well doctors could handle a large influx of patients.
"We want people to be prepared and really feel like we've taken a really big step today."