On Friday January 3, The Jackson MS Salvation Army along with representatives from the Emergency Disaster Services section, and partners from The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief participated in a full-scale exercise along with multiple police and sheriffs agencies, The Clinton MS Public Schools, city government, Hinds County, and the FBI.
The scenario was that an active shooter had entered a public school in Clinton, MS, and had taken multiple victims, and was designed to test the city's capability to manage such an incident including the law enforcement aspects, evacuation of the school, parent / student reunification procedures, etc.
The Salvation Army’s role was to support the responders as they went about their work. The Salvation Army units were stationed at one location but delivered water, snacks and coffee to 4 different locations. In addition The Salvation Army delivered over 200 meals to the exercise participants. Another role The Salvation Army played, and one where The Salvation Army continues to grow is their Emotional and Spiritual Care. Occurrences such as the Newtown, CT shootings last year showed the importance of this type of response at an event like this. Victims have questions, and want to talk to someone they trust and is trained to respond.
While not traditionally involved in this type of active shooter exercise event, over the past few years agencies have begun to see that the abilities of The Salvation Army extend well beyond running a thrift store or passing out water after a disaster. According to ALM Divisional EDS Director, Thad Hicks, “Agencies cannot believe all we can do, and when I told them all they need to do is request our help, they were floored.” The Salvation Army in the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi Division alone has 32 mobile feeding units, plus a mobile field kitchen. Hicks added, “If a need presents itself, all of these assets are available to agencies within our division.”