story Abbie Westendorf | photography fair use

According to CNN there has been at least one school shooting every week of 2018. With this in mind, Lakota has taken initiatives to improve safety for all students and staff in the district. One way the district has acted has been by writing new fire drill guidelines.

Now the staff will be notified prior to any drill, and when they exit their classrooms, they will do the four-looks—left-right-up-down—to make sure all is clear before the students are released to leave the classroom in a safe manner.

East Principal Suzanna Davis says safety is a top priority at East and the administration is working closely with professionals to improve the safety of East

“The district has moved to some common expectations for how drills are going to be,” Davis said.

East’s resource officer Doug Hale told Spark that whenever there is a school incident, East has to adapt or tweak the way it conducts drills. He believes that under these new guidelines, East students and staffers will be safer while participating drills or in the event of an actual fire.  

“Whenever things happen,” Hale said. “we have to adapt to keep everyone as safe as possible.”

Hale works closely with Davis to provide the best safety for East students.

“Everything we do is looking for opportunities to provide a safer school environment for students,” Davis said. “If we are layering new guidelines, it’s with the belief that it’s going to make the drill or actual event as safe as it can possibly be.”

Hale’s job is to assist in any way possible, but East athletic director Richard Bryant was the driving force behind these new guidelines. The new guidelines reinforce East’s Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate (ALICE) training, which Bryant directs.

“In the face of an emergency, we want everyone in the building to evaluate and act,” Bryant said. “This has been our message for the last decade.”

Bryant and Hale weren’t the only people discussing these changes. East also has a Safety Summit team that meets once a month to update procedures and to make sure everyone is up to date on any changes. Safety Summit is dedicated to developing methods and solutions for continuous improvement of workplace safety, and their goal is to reduce workplace injuries and lower the amount of accidents to zero.

According to Bryant, many fire departments and police departments have made changes based on previous emergencies, where a school shooter pulled the fire alarm. However, East has trained for the “fire alarm scenario” in the past.

“Whenever there is a school incident,” Hale said. “We have to adapt or tweak the way we conduct drills.”


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