Mock Drill At Elmore County School

It had the look and sound of a real-life hostage crisis.

"We have a code red situation," said the 9-1-1 dispatcher on the police two-way.

The scene is Eclectic Middle School in rural Elmore County, student population around 530, grades 5th through 8th. The enemy?

"We have an intruder who wants to see his kids. He's armed and has taken a few students hostage," said Elmore County EMA Public Information Director Adam Graham.

The drill comes less than a week after a real, deadly school shooting in Cleveland, Ohio. That shooting left 4 people wounded, the gunman eventually killed himself. That was real, the situation at Eclectic Middle School was not but it could be.

"That's why we train," said Sgt. Chris Zeigler, a swat team member.

Half-way through the drill we heard a loud boom. It was the sound of what police call a flash- bang, a small grenade-like bomb that confuses and startles the suspect. In this scenario, negotiations failed, the swat team killed the gunman and got the hostages out.

So far, so good. No major glitches with the exercise that consisted of 40 police officers and firefighters from 5 surrounding agencies, but nothing compares to a real life hostage situation.

"In a real life situation, there's no doubt the pressure would be much more than what it is now," said Elmore County School PIO Judy Caton.

Evaluators on the scene say overall the drill went well, although there could be some improvement on how officers share information with fellow officers. It's not a technical problem with the two-ways or the links but trying to determine what information to share and with whom.

Meantime, authorities say they're already planning their next exercise. It'll either be a plane crash or a hazardous spill in about 6 months in Wetumpka.