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Thomson Elementary School has bomb drill

Although it wasn't real, it was all too realistic looking.

About 450 students and faculty members were evacuated from Thomson Elementary School on May 10 after a school employee received a telephone call alerting them to a bomb inside the school.

Officers with the Thomson Police Department and firefighters with the Thomson Fire/Rescue Department responded to the school on Guill Street.

Principal Anita Cummings along with Leigh Smith, a second-grade teacher, helped coordinate the evacuation, which was a drill mandated by U.S. Homeland Security.

"I thought everything went very smoothly," Mrs. Cummings said following the drill, which occurred at 9 a.m. "We do this once every year to help make us prepared. This is all part of our vision or our mission at Thomson Elementary School. Mrs. Smith always does an excellent job in helping us with this drill."

Accompanied by their teachers, students filed out of the school and walked to a safe area nearby. They stayed there until an "all-clear" was given by Mrs. Cummings.

Investigator Lt. Scott Whittle and Officer Don Hilson blocked the intersections at Guill and Fluker streets with their patrol cars, while local firefighters and personnel with the McDuffie County Emergency Medical Services set up a few blocks away.

"It was important to make this look as real as we could, so that in the event of a real bomb threat everyone -- students and teachers, alike -- will know exactly what to do," Lt. Whittle said.

"Everybody did a good job in making the drill a success."

If the threat was real, Lt. Whittle said bomb-sniffing dog teams from Columbia and Richmond counties and Fort Gordon would have responded.

"A thorough walk-through of the school would then have been conducted," Lt. Whittle said.

The walk-through would have been in search of a possible explosive device. A criminal investigation also would have been launched had it been a real emergency situation.

Web posted on Thursday, May 20, 2010

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