Representatives from both public and private schools met again with local first responders last Thursday as part of the Washington School District safety committee.
The committee includes officials from the Washington emergency medical service, fire and police departments, as well as deputies from Franklin, St. Charles and Warren counties.
Meramec Valley R-III School District officials also joined the group for discussion Thursday.
Washington Middle School Resource Officer Casey Hill opened the meeting with a recap of the Missouri Safe Schools and Colleges Conference held Oct. 1-3 in Osage Beach.
Washington Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brendan Mahon and Andy Robinson, district safety coordinator, also attended the conference.
“We walked away with a lot of good information, especially about making sure your special needs students and parents understand how important training is in the event of an emergency,” Robinson told The Missourian.
Officer Hill said the conference stressed that having a plan is important, but plans remain ineffective if those carrying them out have not been trained properly.
Washington Police Chief Ken Hahn also provided feedback about a recent tabletop exercise conducted with Washington School District administrators.
The practice scenario detailed an active shooter situation and was developed to help train school leaders on how to respond in the event of a real-life crisis.
Chief Hahn said he was impressed with the level of participation and discussion the exercise generated.
The committee concluded its meeting Thursday with another tabletop exercise, this time a fire emergency.
“I believe that in the Washington area, we are ahead of the curve, but a continued dedication of time, energy and other resources are required to reach our safety goals,” Hill said.
Robinson said he feels the meetings have been very helpful for both emergency response officials and school officials because both sides are learning the thought-processes of each other.
“I think the emergency responders have a very good situational awareness while teachers and staff are more sequential in their response,” he said.
Robinson said the district is continuing to make safety visits and inspections at all of its schools.
“I think the teachers feel generally that students are safe and know the district is working hard on procedures and training,” he said.
The safety committee plans to continue to meet monthly.
“We’re all trying to learn from each other, and the more we do, the better our response will be in the event of a real emergency,” Robinson said.
For more district safety information, please visit www.washington.k12.mo.us and click on Safety in the About Us section.