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Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

Safety on minds of joint team

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Public safety officials have been working for the past five or six years to help schools review their plans and procedures in the event of a major incident -- whether it's a shooting, a fire or severe weather.

Scott Johnson of Bedford County Emergency Management Agency says that the joint city/county public safety team was formed due to input from the schools, even though it now also works with other public facilities such as Shelbyville Recreation Center and large industries like CalsonicKansei North America.

Team effort

The team is made up of representatives from Bedford County Sheriff's Department, Bedford County Fire Department, Bedford County Emergency Medical Services, Shelbyville Fire Department, Shelbyville Police Department and BCEMA.

The public safety team has an assessment team which helps the schools look at disaster planning in five categories:

* law enforcement (a shooting or bomb threat)

* major fire

* medical

* severe weather

* a hazardous materials spill

Close inspections

The assessment team walks through the entire school facility, checking preparedness issues and disaster-related questions. "How are these doors locked?" "Where are the utility cutoffs?"

The team then makes non-binding recommendations to each school for disaster planning.

The schools' disaster plans are reviewed from time to time to make sure they're still current, Johnson said. About a month ago, he said, officials were at Learning Way Elementary reviewing its plan.

The team has also worked with The Webb School, Shelbyville Recreation Center, and local industries.

Focus on schools

"It's not just schools," said Johnson, "but that's mainly the purpose of that joint team."

Johnson meets with principals and assistant principals to discuss what sorts of drills need to be helpful.

The focus this fall has been on evacuation drills -- including a joint exercise between Cascade and Webb -- but lockdown drills will be done as well, said Johnson.

"The team actually did shooter-in-the-school training," he said.

Incident training

Johnson said Tennessee Technology Center at Shelbyville has also been asking for a lockdown drill.

In September and October, principals and assistant principals, respectively, were given National Incident Management Systems training.

Johnson said school officials, who set the disaster plan in motion to begin with, have followed through.

"They've all been supportive," said Johnson. "It's just a matter of fitting it into their schedule. You can't do it all at once." For example, the principals and assistant principals had to take the NIMS training separately because they couldn't both be away from school at the same time.

Police tour

Emergency officials also work to make sure they're prepared for a school emergency. For example, Johnson said, Shelbyville police toured schools in August just to make sure they were familiar with the layout.

"It's an active, ongoing effort," he said.