School Safety Talk Targets Better Communication, Being Prepared

By: Katie Stukey Email
By: Katie Stukey Email
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School safety is the focus Wednesday in Ralston where a symposium will try to find ways for schools and law enforcement to better communicate and prepare for emergencies.

Some 400 deputies, police officers and school leaders are expected to attend the gathering at Ralston Arena starting at 9 a.m. to learn the standard response protocol, a common language to help all parties communicate in the face of disaster.

The protocol defines things like "lockout,” meaning to secure a perimeter. Then “lockdown,” securing individual rooms and keeping students still and quiet. "Evacuate" means all students and staff out with a clear directive of where to go and "shelter," which needs to be followed by clear instructions of how and where to take shelter.

Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis points to 133 school shootings in the U.S., claiming 182 lives in the last 12 years as motivation to get our act together and on a united front. "Anytime an incident like that happens you are going to see a multiple response from law enforcement and EMS, fire departments. We need to know that they're on board and have the same rules, practices throughout this area."

A Colorado man whose daughter was shot and killed in school in 2006 will present his standard response protocol model.

It's been nearly three years since the nightmare of a school shooting became a reality in Omaha when a Millard South student shot and killed the vice principal and wounded the principal. The district joins others around the metro in refining their approach to school violence.

Since last December’s deadly shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, the conversation's taken off about arming staff or having armed guards in schools, but officials say it all starts at home by talking to our children.

Parents, police and schools need to be on the same page when it comes to terms like lockdown, lockout, shelter and evacuate. Sheriff Davis says we need to not only know what they mean, but we need to practice them much like tornado and fire drills.

"We just need to be ready. We don't want to make anybody afraid, but I think teachers want to know that there's something they can do to keep their students safe and I think students want to know that."

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