GREENSBORO, N.C. - The tragedy that unfolded in Florida is about 700 miles away from the Triad, but the heartbreak could be felt here. From the emergency workers rushing to the scene, to kids running from the school, to parents hoping to reunite with their children - the images are horrific.
For the people tasked with keeping students safe in schools, these images really hit close to come.
Sheriff Barnes says this is a different world that we live in now, compared with when he became Sheriff 24 years ago. Watching the live coverage of the school shooting in Florida, it's clear to him these tragedies can happen anywhere.
“It scares the devil out of me,” he said, “I mean, schools can be soft targets, and to have somebody come into a school whether it be a kid or an adult or whoever, who comes in and puts our children, our teachers in jeopardy, it's scares the devil out of me.”
He's turned those feelings into action. Because of various school shootings across the country in the past, he's helped implement several measures across Guilford County Schools. Deputies must know the layouts of each school - the entrance and exit points. He also says his deputies and SWAT teams go through extensive, active shooter drills every year. He adds, it's also up to the people inside the schools to say something, if they see something.
“If something like this were to happen, everyone is keyed into the fact that we need to get there quick,” Sheriff Barnes said, “I mean we've got some of our most vulnerable, our children, that are in the schools and we need to be there and ready to protect them.”
Triad schools also prepare for emergencies, like a school shooting. Guilford County Schools requires each school to do a safety drill once per semester. Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools also run multiple drills each year, and has invested in safety upgrades, like new surveillance cameras, and front door security.
► Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WFMY News 2 App now