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Include information about how you will be evacuated, sheltered and how you will communicate in your plan.
If you cannot take advantage of TV, radio alerts because of hearing or vision problems, plan how you will be alerted. You have the right to bring a service animal, your communication tools and accessories (switches, battery pack, mount) with you. Don’t forget to include specific equipment, such as feeding equipment, batteries, switches, chargers, a laminated communication display so you can access pertinent vocabulary. Consider making a small manual with photos to provide instructions about how you need to be lifted and seated, how you sleep and eat. Make multiple copies of your emergency health information to keep at work, in your wallet, wheelchair pack, or purse with your primary identification card.
Review and update this information whenever your medications or other information changes, but no less than twice a year.
The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Communication Enhancement (AAC-RERC) is funded under grant #H133E080011 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in the U.S.
Quick note about cookies: like most websites, we use cookies to help improve this site so that you can get around easily. This site requires JavaScript to function properly.Please enable JavaScript in your web browser. Minutes later, we heard "All clear!" over the PA system, and the school quickly returned to normal.
Long before the deadly school shooting last December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
By law, every school in the state is required to have a comprehensive emergency plan and to hold drills monthly. But the rules stop there: Schools aren't required to consult the Vermont School Crisis Guide, a detailed disaster-planning handbook that is considered one of the best in the country. During the drill I witnessed, one of those magnetic locks failed to shut properly, which is how I got in.
Ned Kirsch, superintendent of schools for Franklin West Supervisory Union, supervised the drill and understands its importance all too well.
It was a similar drill that prevented more people from getting injured during the 2006 Essex school shooting, according to Leo Nadeau.
Nadeau, who's now retired from law enforcement, is often credited with putting school-crisis preparedness on the radar in Vermont. He pulled together all of Essex's emergency-services directors, as well as school administrators, nurses, guidance counselors and other district staff and began holding school-safety meetings. Then, in 1999, just prior to the Columbine shooting, Essex experienced a rash of bomb threats, Nadeau recalls. Despite its depressing subject matter, the guide should be required reading not only for faculty, administrators and school-board members, but for parents, too. The state stops short of requiring school administrators and local emergency responders to use the guide, but urges them to adopt it and tailor it to the specific needs of their school or district.
Linda Kelley is principal of the pre-K through 12 Rochester School, which has 150 students and a staff of 40 divided between two buildings. Since Rochester doesn't have its own police force, and only a volunteer fire department and EMS squad, the town relies on the Vermont State Police for its law-enforcement coverage.


Moreover, she says, the Rochester School is located in a mountainous area, where cellphone service is spotty. One big concern expressed by parents, Kelley reports, is this: What would happen if children had to evacuate the building in the middle of winter? Charles Johnson, Vermont's Safe Schools coordinator, travels around the state helping schools address a wide variety of potential threats, from bullying to ice storms, drug use to firearms. It's worth noting, for example, that the vast majority of Vermont schools either aren't large enough or cannot afford a school resource officer. In yet another district, a principal told Johnson that many of his students have special needs, including anxiety disorders, and "wouldn't do well" in a lockdown drill.
You are educators, he reminded the principal, so teach your kids how to be safe without frightening them. Generally speaking, "I think we are probably better off than most places in the country," Johnson says of Vermont's level of preparedness.
But local emergency offices emphasize that all the planning documents and safety equipment in the world won't do a thing if administrators, teachers and parents don't take these simulations seriously and practice them enough so they become second nature. Parents are also urged to talk to their principals about where they should go in the event of an actual emergency. Be sure to include information about how you communicate, how to maintain your equipment, etc. Make sure you have enough food and water for at least seven days and that someone will periodically check on you. How did you get in here?" It was Sally Billado, an accounting clerk at BFA-Fairfax who also serves on the school's safety committee.
The halls filled with loud, boisterous children, seemingly unfazed by what they were rehearsing for. As with many aspects of K-12 education in Vermont, it's up to local districts and school boards to decide how to allocate their resources.
Vermont's emergency-management professionals say that while many districts are well ahead of the nation, others are still playing catch up. A few years ago, Fairfax hired a New Hampshire consulting firm to review the building for safety. That became a subject of discussion at the post-drill debriefing with the school's safety committee and emergency responders. He was the principal at Essex Middle School when, on August 24, 2006, a gunman walked into nearby Essex Elementary School and opened fire, killing one teacher. The former Essex police chief notes that, during that shooting, teachers and staff were following procedures they had practiced: They evacuated the building and moved to a secure location. Emergency planners and school officials around Vermont quickly realized that they needed a coordinated and universal approach to school safety. According to those who have worked on it, the guide incorporates some of the latest strategies in school-crisis management, including lessons the U.S. It details exactly how school personnel should respond to various threats, such as an active shooter, a bioterrorism attack, a hostage crisis or a riot — even severe weather or the death of a student. Kelley, who arrived at the school last summer, recently held a breakfast meeting with parents and other community members who wanted to discuss school safety. That means it could take as long as 45 minutes for cops to arrive on the scene of a school shooting.


Johnson points out that in Vermont, it's impossible to have a one-size-fits-all approach to school safety. Just days after the Newtown shooting, Vermont Emergency Management got a call from the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C.
And Superintendent Kirsch is not alone in hoping its "clear the halls" routine never becomes more than just a drill. The appendix includes a list of 10 steps schools can take right away to improve emergency preparedness. In most cases, emergency responders urge parents not to go directly to the school, as they can block access for emergency vehicles and put themselves or others in harm's way. Types of disasters include floods, tornados, tsunamis, earthquakes, extreme temperatures, chemical leaks, terrorist attacks on people, contamination of the water supply and so on. EU regulations mean we have to point this out, hence the annoying message, which will only appear on this first visit.
As always with our kits, we only use products that we have tested and would be happy to use in an emergency. Evidently, all exterior doors into the building were supposed to have been secured during this "clear the halls" drill and school-wide lockdown. They warn that those officials who aren't taking these risks seriously are operating under a false assumption that tragedies like Sandy Hook and Columbine could never happen in their schools.
Since the school has 26 potential entry points for an intruder, the consultant recommended installing magnetic door locks, ID swipe cards and alarms.
The shooting happened before school was in session, so no students were in the building at the time. At the time, his biggest concern was the potential for a catastrophic train accident in Essex Junction, which has 11 railroad crossings and nearly 4000 schoolchildren. From those discussions came the Vermont School Crisis Planning Team, an all-volunteer committee of law enforcement, emergency management, mental health and education experts on which Nadeau still serves. The nearest shelter is at least a quarter mile away — a considerable walk, especially for the youngest students. A place like the Rochester School, for example, has a very different culture, community and list of challenges than, say, Essex High School. Currently, there are just 46 SROs statewide, but according to corporal Mark Moody, who oversees the Vermont Youth Officers Network, school interest in hiring more "has begun to catch fire" in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Officials there were looking for copies of the Vermont School Crisis Guide to send to states seeking guidance. Using the state's Vermont School Crisis Guide isn't mandatory, but planning for the unthinkable is. To make things easy we will assume that you're happy to receive cookies but you can change settings any time by using the Change cookie settings link in the Special menu. After I explained I was a reporter researching a story on school-security procedures, Billado made a note of my presence on her clipboard. The benefits of public access apparently outweigh the risk it might end up in the wrong hands.



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