September 13, 2017 4:50 a.m.
Schools in the county are now in session.
Along with many academic classes, students will also participate in mandatory safety drills throughout the year to prepare and learn how to behave in emergency situations. School administrators say it is helpful for parents to familiarize themselves and understand emergency protocols as well.
A release from the Douglas Education Service District says fire and earthquake drills have been around for a long time and involve evacuation and finding sturdy places to shelter. Lockdown and lockout procedures for dealing with threats inside or outside a building are newer and can often cause anxiety for parents.
Lockdown and lockout, while similar terms, elicit very different protocols and responses from school staff and students. Police and other emergency personnel respond differently based on the protocol used as well.
In either situation keeping traffic, parking lots and phone lines clear for emergency vehicles and communication becomes a priority. An influx of parents arriving on campus or calling the school’s office can block necessary access for police and other authorities.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin says that parents can help by waiting for direction from first responders and avoid going to the scene. Hanlin says it is critical that responders are unimpeded and are allowed to get to the situation as soon as possible.
The ESD release says a lockout is issued as a response to a threat outside the school campus, and means “secure the perimeter”. Students go inside the building. Doors are locked to restrict traffic from coming in, but class and the school day continue on as usual.
A lockdown is issued because there is a threat inside the building. All doors are locked, lights are turned off and students and staff hide in silence. Everyone remains in lockdown until emergency responders and or administrators give an “all clear”.
In both situations, no one is allowed in or out of the building until directed by law enforcement personnel.
The ESD release says the best course of action for parents is to wait even though that might counter normal parental instincts. Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin says that waiting for an “all clear” or for further direction from emergency personnel is the safest response for everyone involved.
Leaders of the Douglas ESD encourage parents to familiarize themselves with the emergency response protocol at their child’s school