LEETOWN, W.Va. — It’s a drill they hope they never have to do in real life, but Jefferson County Schools and local first responders on Friday conducted a large scale “evacuation and reunification” drill at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

Fifth graders from Wright Denny Intermediate and family members volunteered during the event that practiced relocating staff and students to safety and reuniting students with their families during an emergency event.

Jefferson County Schools Public Information Officer Hans Fogle talked about the cooperation of first responders in the exercise.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Robert Sell was at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Friday for the event.  He said it was a chance to put plans to practice:

Sell, a 20-year veteran of the force says it is key to get first responders from throughout the area involved.

Brandan Caton, Jefferson County Schools Director of Operational Safety and Facilities talked about why such an “evacuation and reunification” might be necessary.

Joyce White is Deputy Superintendent of Operations for Jefferson County Schools. She told the Panhandle News Network’s Luke Wiggs the school system benefits from close relationships with first responders.

The large-scale exercise “is designed to ensure we are well prepared for any incident that may require student evacuation from a school site. During any such incident, we would relocate staff and students to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds for safety and to reunite children with their families,” according to a press release from Jefferson County Schools.

“Practicing these safety protocols helps make the process more predictable and less chaotic for all involved in the event of an actual emergency,” according to the press release.

PNN Reporter Luke Wiggs contributed to this story.