Recently, the Dawson County School System participated in a school safety tabletop drill, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, to help all parties better prepare ahead of time for any problem that may occur.
According to Safe Schools Coordinator Tony Wooten, the tabletop drill was facilitated by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and consisted of a discussion of all sides of a hypothetical safety problem at one of the county’s schools.
“You can do the drill for all kinds of things but for this one we chose to simulate a domestic situation on campus that led to a response from law enforcement, fire and EMS,” Wooten said. “We worked together, as the fire department, sheriff’s office, EMS and school system, through what it looks like and how you would respond together — from us making sure we lock everything down and keep students and staff safe to the sheriff’s office and EMS and how they respond to it and help any victims.”
During the drill, he said, each entity got to not only talk through each step that would need to be taken if a scenario like the one in question were to occur, but they were also able to compare notes with one another and to better understand each other’s roles.
“It gives an opportunity for us to talk about things that we may have talked about in the past with the former administration, and to explain where everything is such as AEDs and Stop the Bleed kits that they would need to know where that location is if they needed additional resources,” Wooten said. “Getting together like this, everybody gets to see everyone else’s views and concerns.”
Each of the entities are constantly training on their own, Wooten added, so the tabletop safety drill was a good way to train all together with one another.
“We’re all always working to make sure everyone is trained, make sure our lockdowns are as fast as we can and our communication is as quick as we can,” Wooten said. “We communicate all the time – the sheriff’s office has school resource officers in each of our buildings so they’ve been a part of our drills in the past – so our communication has always been there, but it’s just making sure that we’re prepared as much as we can be.”
Wooten himself has a wife and kids in the school system, he added, as do many of the first responders in each of the other entities, so ensuring that they are adequately prepared for any scenario is really a common goal that they are all working toward together.
“I’m a parent just as much as I am in school safety; a lot of our sheriff’s office, fire and EMS staff have kids and family in the school system too,” Wooten said. “Our goal is always making sure all of our kids and staff are safe; we’re just making sure we spend as much time preparing as we can so that if a situation does arise we’re prepared for it. We’re trying to make sure that we’re all on the same page and that everybody is prepared as best we can in case, God forbid, something happens that we have to respond to.”