PARIS – A mock lockdown was successfully conducted at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Friday morning.

“We cannot guarantee that we will never have an incident. We can guarantee we will be prepared,” said Superintendent Mark Eastman on the same day that Brunswick High School students and staff were sent home early after officials reportedly had some sort of security incident.

Friday’s mock lockdown was 18 months in the making, said Oxford County Emergency Management Director Scott Parker. A mock shooting occurred within the school, while emergency personnel on the outside reacted to it throughout the three-hour exercise.

While the drill was meant to serve as a training session for the emergency responders, it was also a teaching opportunity for staff and students, said Eastman.

“It wasn’t just a drill. There were lots of teaching pieces to it. They really wanted to look at all the dynamics around the incident and what role you play as a student,” explained Eastman of the activity that started with an announcement of the lockdown and instruction for staff and students to go to designated safe areas for 10 minutes.

Students were then allowed to return to their desks, where they were given an overview of the day and told what they should do in different situations, where to go during a lockdown and what a student should do if they saw someone with a weapon.

“I talked to several students. I think they felt it was very useful,” said Eastman.

During the morning the students met in both small and large groups to discuss issues such as exclusion, labeling people, school violence and other similar topics.

“My sense was things went very well,” said Eastman shortly after the event concluded.

Eastman said that it appears there were no major issues, except for a slight communication problem within the building with certain equipment, such as cell phones, that was quickly rectified by using other means of communication.

Participants in the planning for the exercise included Parker, the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, Norway, Paris and Oxford police, Norway and Paris fire departments, PACE ambulance, Stephens Memorial Hospital personnel, Norway and Paris town managers and SAD 17 central office staff.

A full debriefing of all agencies was expected to occur later in the day.

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