District 32 staff continues safety training

Russell Leek (left) and John Cross of District 32 practice extinguishing fires during recent CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training conducted by Perry County Health Department.

While students enjoyed summer break from classes, the staff at Perry County School District 32 learned new ways to ensure the safety of everyone on campus.

Summer training was offered in a variety of safety areas including first aid and CPR, fire suppression and medical triage, and intruder response.

Dep. Matt Schamburg of the Perry County Sheriff's Department is the school's resource officer and heads up the district's safety team with Assistant Superintendent Russell Leek.

Schamburg said the highlights of the summer sessions included CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training conducted by Perry County Health Department and ALICE training provided by Perryville Police Department.

"The CERT training is designed to teach you how to handle any kind of disaster, from a fire to earthquake to tornado," he said. "We've found out from other areas that have suffered large-scale disasters that there may be a period of time after the event during which we'll be responsible for helping ourselves.

"The schools will of course be a high-priority area of the community, but the police and fire departments will also have hospitals and nursing homes and other high-priority locations to deal with, so the more we can do for ourselves, the better it will be for everyone."

Schamburg said the school's CERT team learned a variety of critical skills. "We learned fire suppression, search and rescue, how to safely move the injured, how to triage the wounded, dress wounds, control bleeding and treat shock and so much more," he said.

"It was excellent training provided by the health department. Staff members who attended said that they can apply what they learned to their homes and neighborhoods as well as their schools. We recommend CERT training for everyone."

Schamburg explained that ALICE is an acronym for "Alert Lockdown Inform Counter and Evacuate."

"ALICE is a new concept in school safety that allows us to expand on our existing violent intruder response," he said. "Since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting event in December 2012, many schools are re-evaluating their intruder plans and implementing ALICE.

"There's more we can do to protect our children than simply locking down buildings," he said. "ALICE provides staff members the opportunity to make intelligent decisions as a situation unfolds. Combining better communications with set rally points helps get children out of those classrooms and safely off campus whenever possible."

Assistant Superintendent Russell Leek said that the ALICE training included actual 911 calls from Columbine High School on April 20,1999, when two students killed 13 people and wounded 21 others.

"As a society, we've learned a lot from the Columbine incident," he said. "ALICE training provided our administrative team with a better idea of how lockdowns and evacuations should be used to get as many students as possible away from danger in the event of a violent intruder on campus.

"It's a sad fact that today school staff must be trained in how to respond to armed intruders," Leek said. "Children must feel safe to have an effective learning environment, and we are committed to providing that safety to them. We also want parents to know that we are working hard every day to keep their children safe and healthy while they learn."

Schamburg said that the administrators' training was just the first step in the ALICE training. "Next, we'll be training all staff members, and then using our intruder drills to instruct students and reinforce those instructions."

He said that the district's safety committee constantly evaluates building layouts and security procedures to ensure the safety of students and staff.

"We don't wait for something bad to happen," he said. "Our staff is always watchful, always planning and always ready to keep our kids safe."