On Aug. 17, the Lincoln County School District had county-wide training. Cherry Florence organized the event. Faculty and staff gathered in both Panaca, at the Neldon C. Mathews auditorium, and Pahranagat Valley High School. One hundred were in attendance in Panaca and 45 in Alamo.

Each location participated in a training from Pool Pact Insurance to review the importance of school safety. Situations from other schools were discussed in order to learn and grow to avoid the same mistakes. This training helps the Lincoln County School District be better prepared in tough situations.

The second half of the day was training from International School Safety. Jeff Kaye, the president of the organization, and Bruce Kirby were the two representatives teaching and instructing the school district.

Jeff Kaye had 34 years in law enforcement before creating his company. Kaye said, “Honestly, I hope Nevada sets the stage on school safety because that is what we’re missing in other states across the country. The kids are our most valuable resource in the country. That is our hope and goal and we live for this. All of the trainers we use have 25 or more years in law enforcement or fire services. Our motto is that we train for the worst and pray for the best. Tactics are always changing every day.”

Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD8) took effect July 1, 2013, and set National Preparedness Goals. The FEMA Guide For High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans was brought about due to PPD8. School districts are also responsible for compliance with PPD8, and the State of Nevada has since adopted the FEMA Guide as its State Model Plan for school districts in Nevada. This was through Nevada Senate Bill 205. This mandatory initiative did not come with the proper funding, so the Nevada Pool Pact Risk Management Pool has funded this effort for rural schools. International School Safety has been working with these schools for the past three years.

PPD8 also mandates Hazard and Vulnerability Assessments for infrastructure target-hardening for all facilities in the U.S. The concept is that if a school is ready for the worst-case threat of a terrorist attack, they’re ready for all lesser threats.

School districts in the U.S. are considered Local Authorities and are responsible for being in compliance with federal and state guidelines.

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD5) took effect on July 1, 2015, and mandated compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS) in all emergency planning and training. This is to help better handle domestic incidents in the country, whether they are terrorist attacks, major disasters, or other emergencies.

International School Safety performs physical assessments of the schools for points of vulnerability. A new plan is formed and training begins. They work with all fifteen rural school districts in Nevada. There is yearly training, and training comes in three phases. Phase 1 is the basics in training for everyone. Phase 2 involves the higher roles in emergency response. Phase 3 is an emergency operations center to integrate with law enforcement and fire departments.

International School Safety goes through scenario-based training. It is easy to forget what was previously learned, so refresher courses are needed for hands-on table-top training to help people remember.

The training covers emergency response in four basic responses. They are Lockdown, Lockout, Evacuation, and Shelter in Place, to protect from hazmat until it’s safe to send kids home. They also train in active assailant response, reunification with parents, and some basic Incident Command System (ICS) training.

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee and his officers, as well as Nevada Highway Patrol, were in attendance.

Lee expressed, “I thought it was good for both staff and officers. We participated and gave comments and it was really, really good.”

Cherry Florenc, the principal of Caliente Elementary School, explained, “This training updated everyone on the same page with terminology for schools, employees, and first responders. We will continue learning and training in each school.”

Superintendent Pamela Teel exclaimed, “It went fabulous! There was all positive feedback. There was unified planning and training for everyone with the current terminology that was very helpful and what we needed to do.”

Mike Sparrow, who oversees school safety in Pahranagat Valley, related, “The training is well needed. We are getting info and knowledge from experts in their fields in order to be able to handle threats. We can learn from events like Sandy Hook and be better and more prepared to handle things in emergency settings. Times are changing, and we need to do the best we can to be prepared. You won’t always be able to be prepared, but it will help you be able to react better in such situations.“

The training provided clarity and understanding so everyone in the Lincoln County School District, along with the officers and first responders, could know how to handle the situations that may or may not face them in the future. For more information on International School Safety, you can go to their website at www.schoolsafetyops.com.