BUCKHANNON - Upshur County Schools and emergency responders from county and city agencies are working collaboratively to prepare for potential emergencies at the schools in the county.
On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, officials from these agencies will participate in a community-wide emergency training event at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.
Jodie Akers, Director of Student Services, says, “With last year’s exercise at Buckhannon Academy Elementary being a huge success, we look forward to again partnering with our excellent emergency responders on this event at the Buckhannon Upshur Middle School. We recognize that practicing emergency response procedures can reduce anxiety and safety risks. These activities build our staff confidence in knowing what to do in an emergency. We want to make our drills and training thoughtful and routine for our staff.”
That training will take the form of a full-scale “mock disaster” exercise. As part of the event, school and emergency personnel will respond to a simulated situation as if it were real.
According to Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus, “Each day in our schools, families entrust our Upshur County schools to provide safe and healthy learning environments for approximately four thousand students. Our Upshur County families and communities expect that schools will keep children safe. There is a fundamental link between day-to-day emergency readiness and how well we are prepared for larger scale emergencies. Schools that are well prepared for an individual emergency involving a student or staff member are more likely to be prepared for complex events.”
“I hope we are never required to use the valuable knowledge we will learn in this practice, yet we understand the importance of such training. Whether for an emergency or disaster, preparedness and practice are important to assure we are ready with an effective response that will keep our staff and students safe.”
The event is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Organizers would like the community to be aware of the event because residents will see lots of participants, observers, actors, and emergency vehicles in the area, and it may be difficult to get through the area during the event.
According to Jeff Harvey, Owner Preparedness Division Manager of JH Consulting, “In order to adequately test all elements of this response, we may have emergency vehicles on roadways and parked in the area around Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. We will keep these disruptions to a minimum.”
The training builds off of events from 2018, and it is the culmination of significant planning. Even though it is a lot of work, Upshur Schools knows it is a necessary activity.
According to Dr. Tammy Samples, President of the Upshur County Board of Education, “Upshur County Board of Education members consider the safety of students and school personnel of highest priority. This community has excellent emergency responders who strive to keep our communities safe. This planning training exercise, and future similar events, will provide valuable insights into how Upshur
County Schools can work collaboratively with emergency responders to ensure the safety of all students and staff.”