If ever there was a bomb threat, staff members and students at the Devils Lake High School would be somewhat prepared.

If ever there was a bomb threat, staff members and students at the Devils Lake High School would be somewhat prepared.

As Ramsey County emergency manager Kristen Nelsen said it’s better to remain proactive, her  idea was to surprise the students. Hence the simulated bomb threat exercise Wednesday morning, which prompted more than 400 high school students to evacuate their school.

Should this happen, “it would be a little less scary and they would feel a little bit more confident on what they needed to do,” said Nelsen reassuringly.

Following a safety lockdown protocol inside the building, which was previously practiced by students, the fire department, first responders and police officers were there to oversee their arrival into three separate muster points.
“We responded to the threat from our 911 center,” said school resource officer Ben Harkness.

Harkness said his role as a police officer was to assess the threat by identifying any suspicious objects or bombs inside the building and proceed with further safety protocols from there.

As students were safely led by staff to each muster point, police officers in patrol cars secured the surrounding street entrances.

“I came directly to the school and met with the office staff. We made an initial sweep of the hallways and exits,” Harkness, along with the help of three other officers, said.

Now that proactive measures have been tested, participating departments met for a formal debriefing, which took place after the drill. The incident command and other communications evaluators met “to discuss the goods, the bads, how it went for everyone and what could be done better for next time,” said Nelsen.

While this safety exercise is one of many, the airport, Central Middle School and Devils Lake High School have practiced safety exercises similar in scope. This one involved high school staff, Ramsey County Emergency Management, Devils Lake Fire Department, Devils Lake Police Department, Highway Patrol and other fellow emergency managers from neighboring counties.

“It’s a good feeling to know that the exercise went as well as it did,” said Nelsen.

“We’ll go over it and make adjustments if needed and evaluate everything to be better prepared for the future,” said officer Harkness. “We like to keep everyone safe and make sure it’s a safe learning environment for everyone, it’s really rewarding to work with students and younger people and educate them on, not only laws, but help with school rules and situations like this.”