NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – From the ground to the sky, Nashville’s first responders had a tremendous task Monday assisting law enforcement at The Covenant School shooting. They made sure the children were safely taken from the school and also used their new technology to monitor the skies.
In his decades as a first responder, Scott Harris has witnessed events many never will. But for him, this one was different.
“I could not even begin to process what is going through those children’s minds,” said Harris, a field response coordinator with decades of experience with the Office of Emergency Management in Nashville.
Harris helped the children safely evacuate the school grounds, and he orchestrated seven Metro school buses to shuttle the students to safety and back with their families.
“Turned my attention to immediately getting these kids off and away from the scene so they didn’t have to keep looking back and staring at where they came from and making matters worse,” said Harris.
As Harris orchestrated the on-the-ground effort, Matt Cerone took to the skies as the drone operator for OEM. He was taking the drone to a hazmat scene when he heard the active shooter call and rerouted.
“Without wasting any breath, he said, ‘get that thing in the air,'” said Cerone, recounting what a police officer said to him when he arrived at The Covenant School.
This was the drone’s first time being put to the test at an active scene.
“The scene was chaotic. There’s uniforms running everywhere, uncertainty as to whether there was an active threat still,” said Cerone.
Equipped with a 200x zoom digital camera, the drone was able to search the woods for any children that might have run off in a different direction or even for the shooter.
“Having that eye in the sky provides a level of comfort to officers knowing that the perimeter is clear. That is really valuable,” said Cerone.
When selecting the reunification site, OEM said that the students were purposely shuttled to a site away from the crime scene. The intention is for the students to dissociate the horror they just experienced on school grounds from the relief and joy of being safely back in their parent’s arms.