Posted: Friday, December 14, 2012

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Newtown, Connecticut. This is the kind of tragic event that shakes the very core of a community. Our feelings of sympathy are especially focused on those directly affected by today’s shooting: the students, teachers, staff, administrators, and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School. While all of us work diligently to prevent this type of tragedy and to prepare an effective response to all manner of possible events, we do so in the hope that our plans will never have to be utilized.” - W. Burke Royster, Superintendent

Greenville County Schools has an extensive and comprehensive crisis plan that includes preventative measures, responses, and aftercare measures that cover a wide range of incidents that might occur, from pandemic flu, to explosions, to an armed intruder. For security reasons, we do not disclose the specifics of our preparation or planned response.

The District plan provides a common framework for all schools. The plan was developed with input from professionals in all aspects of emergency preparedness – law enforcement, fire, EMS, and others. As recommended emergency response procedures are updated, we constantly review and make appropriate revisions to our plan. Additionally, in the event an incident occurs, we conduct a formal debriefing for review and revision of procedures as necessary.

The District employs a Coordinator of School Safety and Emergency Preparedness who is a retired veteran law enforcement officer with experience in both law enforcement and emergency preparedness. Schools across the District perform drills throughout year, including lockdown drills that could be used in a situation like this. We have extensive and redundant communication systems in place in all locations. We have a close working relationship with law enforcement agencies and first responder agencies throughout the county.

This past Monday, District officials met with representatives from every law enforcement agency in the county that has District locations within their jurisdiction to review our emergency procedures and capabilities and ensure clear communication, which is vitally important in responding to emergency situations.  In addition to having a close and cooperative relationship with all the law enforcement agencies in our county, as far as we know, we are the only school district in South Carolina that, in a cooperative effort with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, has a law enforcement unit assigned directly to the school district.

The District’s total emergency plan is lengthy, but has been summarized on a chart that is issued to principals, assistant principals, and other key personnel. It describes basic immediate responses needed in any conceivable emergency. We have trained designated District administrators and all principals in two FEMA Crisis Response courses: Introduction to Incident Command Systems for Schools and Introduction to NIMS (National Incident Management System.)  The District emergency response uses the same Incident Command System that is utilized nationally by all professional emergency responders. This ensures immediate and clear communication and division of responsibilities in the event of an emergency.

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