“Looking with fresh eyes” – emergency response at Milford schools

The school board started its meeting with a moment of silence for Sandy Hook Elementary and the Newtown, CT community.  As I prayed, I thought of each and every one of those children and adults who were caught in the horrifying confluence of so many different forces …  a situation which can’t be explained, but which, after the fact, can only help us look at our own lives and what we do to touch others around us.

I believe a fitting tribute, both to Sandy Hook and our own community, is to review what we are doing to protect our students in Milford, which is what board member Rob Hewlett asked Jeff Johnson, Operations Director, and Dr. Farrell, Superintendent, to do last night.

Mr. Johnson put it well:  “We are looking with fresh eyes” at our security systems and procedures, checking every link to make sure we have not missed anything we can control.  Purely by coincidence, school training in our new response system, ALiCE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), had been planned for this past week.

ALiCE is a program adopted by Miami Township safety personnel in conjunction with the school district.  Instead of asking students and adults to be passive in the face of a violent situation – such as hiding under desks and becoming potential sitting ducks for an intruder – ALiCE teaches them to use proactive strategies to reduce their chances of becoming a victim.

ALiCE was developed by Response Options, which says, “It is our hope that as the American child grows-up through the K-12 education system where pro-active strategies are taught, these children will become adults who know how to respond to violence for the rest of their lives.”  What a valuable gift to give our children – the ability to protect themselves.

And indeed, this is what several of the heroic Sandy Hook teachers did – they took proactive measures to protect their students.  Many, many lives were saved by their approach.

ALiCE is just one piece of Milford’s work to protect our students and personnel.  We work with the local police and fire departments, both in Miami Township and Milford, regularly.  We review and update our plans at least annually – more often than required by law – to be sure we have the best thinking possible; our teachers and administrators are taught extensive emergency response through ALiCE so they have a variety of options they can draw on; we have security cameras at both the Junior High and High School, which can feed directly to law enforcement when required.; we have radios that do not jam in emergency situations as cell phones can, so our administrators can be in touch with rescue personnel immediately; and much more.

District personnel will be on Miami Township TV soon, along with law enforcement officers, to discuss these plans in more detail.  Look for the show, either on cable or the Miami Township website, and of course contact your school’s principal if you’d like more information on our emergency protection plans.

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