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Franklin - Emergency version of school safety plan presented at FSSD board meeting

Well before the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Franklin Special School District developed a School Safety Plan and Emergency Operations Procedures Manual as prescribed by the state’s SAVE Act. The SAVE Act is the state emergency response plan developed in conjunction with local emergency response agencies integrating a multi-hazard approach to planning.

At Monday evening’s Board of Education meeting, Susan Eddes presented the district’s most recent manual for approval.

Using the state plan, an FSSD team created a plan to specifically meet the needs of the system’s students, teachers, administrators and staff during an emergency.

“It took us a while to do that,” said Susan Eddes, FSSD grant coordinator and member of the safety plan team. “The SAVE Act gave us the opportunity to adapt their plan for our school district.”

Realizing the manual, which is chock-full of useful and important information, is too cumbersome in an emergency when time is at a premium, the team created an abridged version for schools. The emergency version of the manual is easier to navigate and find procedures and protocols for emergency situations such as a bomb threat, child abduction, building evacuation, fire and more. New protocols recently added to the manuals include infectious diseases and food defense.

The team also realized that for the first five to 10 minutes of an emergency, school personnel are the first line of defense.

“As educators we found we needed to educate ourselves about emergency response so during an emergency situation we could ‘talk their talk’.” Eddes said.

Working with local emergency management agencies since 2010, educators – every school has a minimum of five people – began taking emergency response classes. To date 83 educators have taken 278 classes totaling 556 hours to prepare themselves to respond to emergencies.

“A plethora of people, all with different backgrounds, are now trained in early response,” Eddes said. “We know what we are supposed to do and when. We have a level of expertise in this district we could never have had without these courses.”

Even substitute teachers are briefed on much of the same basic information as all teachers before they are allowed to sub in a classroom, according to Dr. Roberta Hill, Human Resources supervisor.

“They go through a day-long training before they go into the classroom,” she said.

The team also determined during the process, “We are never going to be finished with this,” Eddes added. “We update information continually. What we know is because of the wonderful relationship we have with our emergency responders who come every month to work with groups in the district. It’s just been great.”

If there are shortcomings in the plan, it is the number of routine drills schools provide, FSSD Superintendent Dr. David Snowden told Board members.

“We have to provide an opportunity for more drills,” he said.

Posted on: 1/17/2013


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