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The Suburbanite
  • Green Schools, Summit Sheriff develop crisis management plan

  • The local schools had not submitted a safety plan to the Ohio Attorney's Office since 2007. In spite of this oversight, safety planning was never neglected. The schools have collaborated with the Summit Sheriff to develop a unique and detailed plan for response in time of crisis.

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  • The local schools had not submitted a safety plan to the Ohio Attorney's Office since 2007. In spite of this oversight, safety planning was never neglected.
    "Technically we were in violation of the law," said Wendall Jackson, Green Operations Director. "However, we do have a plan in place and we had contacted the Attorney General's Office about it and they told us to keep them informed."
    Green is also working on a much more detailed plan than that which is required by law. The district has been in consultation with the Summit County Sheriff's Department and has been updating its emergency plan under a new program called "Total Crisis Management.”
     "What we have been trying to do is give the state a total safety program that gives us an effective way to deal with a crisis such as a school shooting or intruder in the building," Jackson said of the discussions. '"We have been holding off sending it in to the state in order to send them a much more complete package."
    The planning began with support Green Mayor Dick Norton. Norton, along with Superintendent Mike Nutter and Sheriff Steve Barry began discussing what could be done to create safer schools.
    Jackson and Lieutenant Doug Smith of the Sheriff's Department have been working to further refine the plan which involves coordinating response to a variety of situations. These responses also involve safety agencies contiguous to Green.
    "In a crisis situation things are going to be in a state of confusion," said Smith. "What we want to do is cut down on this confusion and integrate the various safety forces that will be involved in any response, be they Green Fire, the Sheriff's Department and other safety forces around Green."
    One aspect of this involved coordinating terms used by responders. For instance, terminology used by fire and police to describe the same situation may vary.
    "We wanted to use a common language so we would be on the same wave length to avoid confusion," said Smith. "We have had meetings with Green Fire to discuss our tactics and how we would react to a given situation. We have worked with the Fire Department in collaborative training at our training facility. This way, they have a much better understanding of what to expect if they are called into a situation like Columbine."
    Another aspect of the program allows first responders to become familiar with the layout of the Green Local buildings. This allows them to react quickly in an emergency situation without losing time as they look over building layouts.
    Smith, meanwhile, has been taking tours of the buildings in Green, assessing them for problems and offering suggestions to improve response time.
    "As an example bushes close to a door may need to be removed so that they cannot serve as a place to hide backpacks  that might carry explosives or weapons," Smith said. "Evacuation routes will be looked at so that they will not allow an individual to lay in wait after an evacuation has been put into effect."
    Page 2 of 2 - To illustrate this Smith talked about a recent shooting in which two armed students pulled a fire alarm and, as their peers evacuated the building, the two armed students opened fire killing several students and teachers.
    "We are looking into the idea of getting the students out of a building as quickly as possible and having them just run away,” Smith said. “While this may cause some initial confusion it gets them out of the danger area and eventually they will all be accounted for.”
    Another thing changing is the mind set of everyone involved. As recent events have shown, violence is something that can occur and everyone needs to realize that these instances can happen anywhere.
    Throughout the planning process, there has never been discussions about arming school personnel.
    "Right now, this is not something that is being looked into," Smith said. "Police officers who are trained to respond to such situations practice repeatedly. Someone who doesn't have that opportunity to practice like that cannot be expected to be able to respond effectively."
    Eventually, the goal is to come up with a template that can be the basis for crisis management planning for all area schools to follow. Efforts are underway throughout Summit County to work with the various schools to develop this template and help safety forces prepare for an emergency.