Roughly 30 volunteers reported to Saxe Middle School at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 8, joining dozens of officials and emergency responders for a massive drill modeled off the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
"They were looking at things from so many different angles, and knowing our children are in their hands, that's so great," she said after participating in the drill.
For the lockdown section of the drill, Katz was situated in a classroom where the teacher turned off the lights and closed the door. The volunteers, playing children, gathered in the corner silently so that they could not be seen through the door.
"You could hear voices in the hallway, but they didn't do it to be scary; they didn't run through the halls and make a lot of noise," she remembered.
Kristin Mallozzi lost a family friend at Newtown, 6-year-old James Mattioli. Mallozzi's oldest daughter will start kindergarten this year, and she wanted to see how officials were preparing school administrators in case of a similar situation.
"I thought they did an amazing job, bringing all those organizations together," she said. "As a parent, I was like, `I can't believe all the responsibility they have.' Even to the very end, the reunification, how much they have to know and prepare for ... I feel as secure as I'm ever going to feel sending my first child off to public school."
Mallozzi played the role of a child during the active shooter and triage sections of the drill.
"Unfortunately, my injury was very severe and I was `black tagged,'" she said, referencing the color code given to victims based on the severity of their injuries. The black tag was death. "I was laying there while they tended to people with active injuries."
Diane Driscoll is a member of the all-volunteer Community Emergency Response Team, and was the team leader for the drill, charged with organizing and deploying volunteers.
"It was eye-opening in a way that even though we all knew it was a drill, we did experience some of the interactions that would happen in that situation which there are no other ways to experience without a drill," she said.
A mother of two children who attended Saxe, Driscoll said she expected concrete and positive outcomes from the drill.
"I'm honored I got to be a part of that drill," she said. "If there's anything I can do that helps my family and other people's families, it's a good thing."
Brett Gerardi, 18, just graduated from New Canaan High School, where he was a member of SLOBs for all four years. Though now a SLOBs alumnus, he participated in the drill along with his friend, and current SLOB, K.J. Pascal.
Gerardi was given the role of a student who had lacerations to the temple during the simulation of the triage section. The injury was severe enough that he couldn't walk.
"They carried me off and I was put in a triage area," he said. "I was tagged `red' and was in critical condition. It turned out they weren't able to respond to me in time, so I died of my wounds."
Gerardi said he thought some of the volunteers could have played their roles more seriously, but said it was an impressive effort overall.
"It was pretty fun, it was interesting," he said. "It would have been more fun if I could have gotten into an ambulance, but I was already dead, so they didn't put me in one," he said.
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