Unified plans for the worst
In a move to streamline its security policy in emergencies ranging from a broken leg to a hostage situation, Lake Tahoe Unified School District has created crisis teams and strengthened the partnership with law enforcement.
Lisa Huard, emergency and safe schools coordinator, spearheaded the organizational effort. Each school has a trained team of five individuals to deal with disasters in different areas, align themselves with emergency personnel and account for students and staff.
“We want the public to understand the safest place for a kid to be is at school,” Huard said.
Training has centered around the Standardized Emergency Management System. SEMS is a California mandate for law enforcement to partner with cities, counties and special districts to institute chain of commands and organization for emergencies.
The teams include an incident commander, operations chief, logistics chief, planning and intelligence representative and administration/finance person.
Members of the team are trained for more than six hours to be able to react in identical fashion to various emergencies.
Fires, earthquakes, chlorine spills and school intruders are covered.
During a chlorine spill, teachers are advised to seal windows and doors with 6-mm heavy plastic. A spill is possible with the South Tahoe Public Utility District facility near South Tahoe Middle School and Al Tahoe and Sierra House elementary schools, Huard said.
If an unwanted intruder enters a school, a lockdown procedure will take effect. The effort, Huard said, is to “prepare for everything feasible.”
Command posts have been decided, as well as alternatives if the first proves unrealistic.
Schools will also keep closer tabs on visitors.
“Should an evacuation happen, we need to account for everyone on campus,” Huard said.
Three hand-held radios, paid for with money outside the general fund, will be given to each team at the seven district schools.
South Lake Tahoe Fire Department and Lake Valley Fire Valley Protection District are involved with the district’s planning, as well as South Lake Tahoe Police Department, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department and Red Cross.
Brad Piazzo, captain with the SLTFD and fire representative for the district, said the schools have always done a good job on fire drills, which are encouraged to occur every month.
“Something we try to stress is have the lines of communication down and practice them,” Piazzo said. “From a fire standpoint, we’re more concerned with getting kids out of there and getting them in an area where we can make sure there is proper accountability for all students.”
Alex Schumacher, a sergeant with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, has assisted the school district in the process.
“We’ve had a safe school partnership for a long time, but this is more of a formalized relationship throughout the district,” Schumacher said.
— Contact William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org
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