A training exercise for first responders in Pettis County was held Tuesday morning at Smith-Cotton Junior High, 312 E. Broadway.

The exercise simulated an active shooter, portrayed by Sgt. John Comfort, who had accessed the main building with a shotgun.

The purpose of the exercise was to collaborate between agencies and establish best practices in the event of a real-world emergency similar to what was portrayed on Tuesday.

Sgt. John Cline, Pettis County Sheriff's Office, coordinated the event, with detailed briefings before and after the exercise. Sedalia 200 School District Administrators observed, while some 25 district staff members volunteered to portray victims during the scenario. The exercise was also designed to help education officials improve their school security, disaster planning and communications.

Sgt. John Comfort convincingly portrayed the "shooter" (top photo). A loud blast from his shotgun at the front entrance of the Junior High alerted all those on scene and set the exercise in motion.

No live ammo was used during the exercise, Cline emphasized.

"The public safety professionals of Sedalia and Pettis County truly have a servant's heart. They were exceptionally capable," Cline said. "While there's always room for improvements, we have made significant improvements in our response from lessons learned from the exercise we did last summer ... and I'm sure there will be lessons learned from this exercise as well."

Cline reported no real injuries and no property damage during the event. He added that he was impressed and pleased overall with how smooth the mock shooting exercise went.

In a real-life scenario, there are mutual aid agreements with other agencies to pull in numerous resources if needed, Cline noted.

Pettis County Det. Tollie Rowe's role in the exercise was to coordinate the staging area (at Bothwell Regional Health Center) and respond officers as in a real-world response.

"In a real world, you're not going to have all the fire, EMS and law enforcement show up all at once. So we had to stagger them so it's more realistic," Rowe said after the exercise was completed.

"Sgt. Cline did a great job putting this together," Rose stated.

He also commended the Sedalia and Pettis County command staff for staying in control. "You have to control a lot of people who want to rush in and help, and I think the command staff at the City and County have done that really well," he said.

Rowe added that he was very pleased with the results and also with the location change from the high school last year to the middle school this year.

Participating agencies included Sedalia Police, Sedalia Fire, Pettis County Sheriff's deputies, PCAD and Missouri State Highway Patrol.

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