Hope for the best, prepared for the worst

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Courtesy photo Mark Fedderson with the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security addresses the groups in attendance during a recent crisis response and prevention seminar.

KELLOGG — Several local agencies recently participated in a crisis response and prevention training at the Kellogg Public Health Building.

The four-hour training earlier this week was attended by the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office (patrol and dispatch), Pinehurst Police Department, Kellogg School District, Wallace School District, Fire District No. 1, Fire District No. 2, Shoshone County EMS, Kootenai County Office of Emergency Management, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Shoshone Medical Center, Idaho Office of Emergency Management, Shoshone County Disaster Services and the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security.

The in-depth seminar was put on by Mark Fedderson with the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security, as well as Shoshone County’s Disaster Services Coordinator Dan Martenson, who simulated a scenario that resulted in a school shooting and showed how to react and respond to such a horrifying event.

While it is sad that school and local officials must undergo a harrowing training exercise such as this, the numbers show that it’s necessary. According to a national study, violent incidents in schools increased 113 percent during the 2017-18 school year, with an increase of 1,300 threats of violence according to USA Today.

Pinehurst Elementary Principal Mike Groves discussed what went on during the training and the importance of the simulation.

“They had a scenario that resulted in a school shooting. The scenario was laid out in six modules that step through the entire process, starting with trying to identify a student with personal issues that are affecting them, all the way to how a community heals after an event like that,” Groves said. “In each module, the discussion was centered on what each agency’s responsibility was, as well as what policies are in place and what policies need to be in place.”

The six modules were: What is normal?, Assessment, Assessment continued, Resource Allocation, Incident Response and Recovery.

The earlier modules were more school-centric in that it involves and requires having a relationship with a student(s) where changes in behavior are noticed or other students are comfortable enough to bring their concerns about their classmates to a teacher.

The two different modules on assessment were very important because they involved dramatically different personnel.

“Initial assessment was centered on school personnel but the later assessment involved other agencies such as health and welfare, law enforcement, mental health professionals, etc. As we talked about a student who is not responding to interventions, other agencies/resources were brought into the discussion.”

The scenario progressed to an active shooter in a school and the discussion centered on school personnel responses, law enforcement responses, EMT response, as well as other agency responses.

The final module focused on those agencies that help a community heal after an event like this.

Groves mentioned how the situation really brought up questions amongst the attendees, things like chain of command, EMS protocol and many other factors,

“Some of the topics brought up in the discussions included what agencies should be involved in each stage,” Groves said. “Who will be in charge? At what point does EMS go into a building and start treating folks? Who calls 911? How does 911 handle the flood of calls they’ll be getting? Law enforcement tactics upon arrival, or evacuate school or lock down just to name a few.”

Hopefully the Silver Valley will never have to endure anything remotely involving this training, but after the 2017 shooting at Freeman High School in nearby Rockford, Wash., it is better to be prepared and not needed than the other way around.

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