NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - Charleston Southern University ran an active shooter drill Wednesday, in efforts to keep campus safe.
The exercise was led by Campus Security at CSU and included the North Charleston Police Department, Charleston County Sheriff's Office, North Charleston Fire Department, Charleston County EMS and the Coastal Crises Chaplaincy.
Drill organizers said the goal is to test the response of local law enforcement and campus security if there were an active shooter or hostage situation.
John Wilson, dir. of campus security, said the mock scenarios are realistic for today's world.
"Look at some of these political rallies, they turn into protests," Wilson said. "They're different scenarios with active shooters all over the United States. So they're real-life situations hopefully, we'll never have to deal with, but we'll be prepared if we do."
According to Wilson, the exercise is part of the Emergency Response Plan (ERP), a proactive strategy to ensure campus safety for faculty, staff, students and visitors on campus. The ERP is a detailed set of policies and procedures that guide the university's response during an emergency.
Students also assisted the exercise, mimicking a protest that turns violent.
"Some students actually participated in actors in our drill so I think it maybe opened their eyes to what actually goes on in a situation of this type," Wilson said.
Chelsea Hoover, a senior at Charleston Southern University, said the scenarios were startling.
"It's definitely terrifying," Hoover said. "Especially the police with the suits that broke up the protest. It definitely brings awareness because I know with active shooters, I always imagined somebody running in the room. whereas this was a completely different scenario where we're just protesting and someone drove by."
Student Jessica Kitzmiller said active shooter situations are often top of mind, given national events.
"This past year with so many things happening around the world it's been absolutely a thought of mine, when i'm in chapel or in the library or anywhere in public," Kitzmiller said. She said seeing the drill in action helps her feel a little bit safer.
"It's really cool, to see all the different functions, all the different parts that work together just to make this happen and to protect us," Kitzmiller said.
If there is ever an emergency, CSU will send out a "Buck alert" where students will get texts and emails alerting them to any possible dangers.
A College of Charleston spokesperson says City of Charleston, Charleston County and campus police did an active shooter exercise in May.
They have a "Cougar alert System." The systems will contact up to six phone numbers for the students.
A spokesperson for the Citadel said the school regularly runs emergency response trainings for different scenarios. They'll also send alerts by text, email and phone, and sirens on campus will sound to alert students.