EATON —Last week, the Eaton Fire Division and EMS, along with the Eaton Police Division hosted a table top discussion for teachers and administrators in preparation for large scale emergencies. The exercise was held at Eaton Community Schools on Thursday, Nov. 12.
Fire Chief Jack Royer led around 20 people, including teachers and administrators from Eaton Middle School, along with members of Eaton Fire, EMS and police, in the discussion of the school’s emergency response plan.
According to the school’s website, the plans are in place for a wide range of events. “An emergency is defined as an event which threatens the actual safety and security of students, employees or visitors of the district or whose impact threatens the feeling of safety and security, both of which are detrimental to a positive learning environment,” the plan states. “Emergencies include, but are not limited to, fire, natural disasters, medical emergencies, industrial accidents, suicide, death of a student or employee, acts of violence, trauma and terrorism.”
The website noted each classroom has a copy of the plan posted on its wall and it is reevaluated at least once a year.
However, according to Superintendent Dr. Barbara Curry, the school participates in simulated events with local emergency responders to prepare for worst-case scenario events at least four times a year, one for each of the district’s buildings.
“Safety of our staff and students is of utmost importance,” Curry said of the drill. “As a result we want to be as proactive as we can as a district. We have a great partnership with our local safety officials who help us run four drills every year.”
Curry said she has confidence in the school’s current plan, but says being familiar with the plan is important. “I believe with everything there are always opportunities for growth,” she said. “Our current plan is made through a concerted effort with our safety officials, parents were also involved and administration and teachers were as well. We believe our plan is very good but the key to plan is implementation of the plan, so this gives us chance to be more familiar with it.”
According to Royer, the school is required to participate in the program practicing their emergency response plan. He noted, the practice is starting to pay off. “They are certainly starting to develop good habits and are becoming familiar with the implementation of the plan,” he said of school officials.
He also noted, each drill is an attempt to challenge the administrators and teachers on different aspects of their plan. “We create the scenarios and we try creating scenarios based on what we have heard of. We try to change it up and give them different challenges so they can review different portions of their plan each time.”
Royer said safety officials will make recommendations to the school, but says the school is given the final decision.
The discussion lasted about two hours, as teachers practiced helping students in a time of evacuation and discussed the best ways to communicate with administrators and first responders if the plan were to be put in effect.
Each on of Eaton’s four buildings within the district will have a similar drill during the school year.