2017-12-01 / Local

Brunswick School Department updates emergency response plan

Times Record Staff


Brunswick’s School Department is beefing up its emergency plan that would deal with, among other scenarios, an active shooter.

Assistant Superintendent Pender Makin said the decision came after it was learned that the original plan of lockdown and sheltering in place was actually more dangerous than other measures, according to 25 years of data on mass shootings compiled within the United States.

The Brunswick School Department started looking at revising its plan two years ago.

Emails from staff were collected at the conclusion of a two-hour active shooter training in August, and one primary school teacher said they were struck by how dangerous the previous lockdown approach was.

The teacher described hiding in a small enclosed space, listening to simulated gunshots getting closer and describing the experience as terrifying. However, the new protocol, which deviates from a one-size-fits-all plan, and gives staff the ability to rely on their own judgment in a given situation.

“When we were trained and given permission to do something, the ability to escape or to barricade the doors made me feel as though I have the opportunity to ensure the survival of my students,” the email stated.

New plan

Makin said an updated plan, known by the acronym ALICE, was approved by the school board earlier this month following a presentation by School Resource Officer Tom Stanton.

ALICE — which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate — incorporates additional training to utilize more tools for responding to emergency situations, including an active shooter event.

The new plan is intended to mitigate against, prepare for and respond to all emergencies and disasters at the school, although the plan cannot address specific responses to all circumstances, Makin said.

Although lockdown remains an option, Makin said, barricading doors and taking additional action to increase response choices is necessary, because one way of responding is not sufficient to react to a myriad of unpredictable situations.

The additional training includes how to barricade against an intruder and use technology to provide information, as well as how to evacuate students and staff.

The protocol outlines workplace safety and security hazards, including considerations for special needs students.

An emergency communication plan has also been established using a school messenger alert, district and school websites, email and backpack letters, in addition to information shared with designated media outlets.

An incident command system — a nationally recognized organizational structure that provides role assignment and decision-making while responding and planning for emergencies — has also been implemented. Local emergency responders have adopted a similar system, which helps to jointly plan for and respond to emergencies.

Although staff is trained in various methods associated with ALICE, Makin said students are not being trained in how to fight back against an active threat. She noted that following the training, district staff feels more empowered and capable in how to respond to emergency situations.

Training is ongoing, Makin said, with a mandatory one-hour session and a voluntary two-hour session, the latter included scenarios to which to respond.

“Its been a really positive experience,” she said.

Other states have begun to adopt this management plan, as well as the town’s police and fire department, she said.


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