Area officials from a cross-section of emergency agencies gathered at Grove High School Wednesday to coordinate strategies for dealing with potential threats to student safety, such as shooters, terrorist attacks, tornadoes, and bombings.
“We lay out a scenario and then we discuss how we will respond,” explained DeWayne Creason, the director of security and maintenance for the Grove School System.
The principals of all the Grove Schools were present, along with officials from Grove Police Department, Emergency Management, EMS, and Fire Department.
“We brought in everybody who would be involved in this type of situation, “ Creason said. “That way we all know what will be done and who will be doing it.”
Table Talks have been taking place at least once a year at the school since 1996 when officials first met to develop a plan, Creason said.
Each Table Talk exercise concentrates on a specific threat.
“We cover them all – shooters, terrorists, tornadoes, bombings – anything that could be imagined,” Creason said.
He noted that the main reason for the meetings is to help ensure the safety of the students, no easy feat considered the growth of the district in recent years.
According to Creason, there are currently over 2,300 students in the Grove School District.
“Every time we have one of these exercises, one of our main concerns is how we’re going to contact the parents and let them know their children are safe. We have about 1,200 parents who would need to be contacted in the event of an emergency,” he said.
Creason said it is a sad commentary on today’s society that officials must spend their time planning for potential tragedy.
“It’s a sad day when we have to sit down and do this,” he said. “We should be able to be more concerned with education than safety.”
Nevertheless, Creason said the district is determined to do what it needs to do.