NEW PALESTINE — County emergency management directors visited New Palestine High School this week to ensure the building’s renovations take disaster preparedness into account.
Hancock County Homeland Security Executive Director Misty Moore and Deputy Principal Joe Fitzgerald toured the school and spoke with administrators. They discussed how administrators will handle emergencies in the school once the renovation is complete.
“New Pal High School has had and is still going through many renovations, which requires us to help them reassess their safe zones at different points in the process,” Moore said.
The violent tornadoes that hit western Kentucky in December were a reminder that weather disasters can strike at any time.
“We always want schools to update their preparedness and response plans,” Moore said.
Miles Hercamp, director of school safety for Hancock South Schools, and Amy Dawson, associate principal at ENSP, showed Moore and Fitzgerald the safety measures they work with during the renovations as well as their plans once renovation completed.
Wes Anderson, director of communications for the district, said it was important to keep emergency management officials informed of plans so they can offer advice on improving safety.
“We have to make sure we have safety procedures nailed down,” Anderson said.
Making sure things are secure isn’t as simple as it sounds, Anderson said. He noted that one must be prepared and know where students and staff are and where they need to go in the event of a disaster.
“These are all things we need to think about as this renovation project continues,” Anderson said. “We want their wisdom and insight, and that’s an ongoing thing because we want to make sure we’re doing it right.”
Safety measures are a high priority for district officials, Anderson said. Manufacturers understand this too. When presenting a design and during a construction process for things like a school, creating safe havens for students and teachers in the event of weather and other types of emergencies comes into the picture. planning. These are things the average person might not think about, but security people do.
Moore noted that officials from the county’s Department of Homeland Security – it was formerly called Hancock County Emergency Management – visit all schools in the county at least once a year to ensure officials are prepared in the event. of disaster.
“We partner with county schools each year to review these areas with them, get expert advice from the National Weather Service if needed, and also observe their biannual drills to ensure the plans are working properly and efficiently,” said Moore said.
Moore knows that the safety of staff and students at all schools in the county is important, and she said drills to ensure their response is going as planned are very important.
“The main message for schools is to follow their emergency plans that are in place,” Moore said.
They encourage officials to have weather radios, to receive and track county emergency alerts, as well as alerts from weather departments and local media.
“This ensures there is redundancy in reporting severe weather in their area,” Moore said. “We have tornado sirens in their areas, but these are for people outside, so they cannot be the sole source of notification of a tornado warning in their area.”
She said they will always encourage school officials, when in doubt, to play it safe and shelter in place until the threat of severe weather has passed.