Tri-Village News

District, police work together on 'reboot' of safety plan

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The Grandview Heights Police Department has implemented a revised emergency response plan for incidents that could occur at a school building.

Work on the tactical plan began several months before the shootings in Newtown, Conn., but that incident "certainly reinforced the idea that we needed to do this," said police officer Ryan Starns, who coordinated the effort to redevelop the plan.

The updated plan is a "reboot" of the procedures the department previously had in place, Starns said.

"That tragic incident reminded us that we can no longer pretend that something can't happen here," he said. "Grandview is a wonderful, quiet community, but so is Newtown.

"We want to make sure we have a plan in place to take care of our children in case something terrible does happen," Starns said.

"It's always good to periodically review the procedures you have in place," Police Chief David Wood said. "You always want to keep an open mind as to how you can improve your plan."

The revised plan spells out how officers will respond to all types of emergency situations, including an active shooter, gas leak, fire or storm damage that threatens student safety and may require evacuation of the building, he said.

"We've included school officials and representatives from our evacuation centers in the process," Starns said. "Our plan gives them a set of duties they will have in an emergency, but they will be developing their own plan for who on their staff will take on those roles.

"They know their personnel best and who would be best suited for each role," he said.

School administrators, for example, will know which staff members have medical training and would be best suited to assist with triage, Starns said.

Grandview police have been conducting training sessions during off-hours in the school buildings, he said.

"We want to make sure that everybody knows what they're supposed to do, because you may not always be working with the same people because of vacations and changes in shifts," Starns said. "Everybody will have a specific role to play in an emergency response and everybody should know their role."

Representatives of the community's evacuation centers -- the buildings to which students would be sent when schools are evacuated -- also have been included and given new roles in the plan, he said.

"We're really appreciative of the level of cooperation we've received from the school district and our evacuation centers," Starns said. "Everyone is concerned that we keep our children as safe as possible.

"We have a plan," he said. "We hope we never have to use it."

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