Practice and Preparation Equates to Performance

School Safety MeetingOn October 23, 2019, the North Central Educational Service District (NCESD) Crisis Management Co-Op, working in partnership with Methow Valley School District, facilitated an “Active Shooter” interactive tabletop exercise.

Serving as the first of many “simulated” Emergency Operations Planning and Preparation activities to follow, the exercise involved a long list of participants that included representatives from: fire (OCFD #6), law enforcement (Twisp Police Department, OCSD, WSP, WA State Parks, OCDEMS), EMS (Aero Methow), healthcare providers (Family Health Centers, Confluence, North Valley Hospital), and district staff.

Recognizing that practice and preparation is the key to performance, the simulated activity was designed with the intent of:

  • Increasing the safety of students and staff and first responders
  • Build relationships and partnerships among all agencies
  • Learn capacities and limitations of all agencies
  • Use of Emergency Operation Plan functional annexes and emergency flipcharts
  • Assess and evaluate the plan in a simulated setting and determine what if any policy or procedural adjustments are needed
  • Test communication systems within and among agencies
  • Test communication systems between the schools and parents

When asked to share reflections about the activity during the debrief, one first responder stated, “This exercise was outstanding. I look forward to doing this again. We developed a much deeper understanding of our capacities and limitations, how we will work together, and how much everyone cares about our kids!”

Another participant said, “It feels good to know no matter what threat we’re faced with, we are all on the same team. This feels like a leap forward in support of the safety and security of our students.” Another chimed in, stating, “Given this is about the safety and security of our students, let’s make sure we include a representative from Little Star and our Head Start program in future tabletop exercises.”

NCESD Crisis Co-Op Crisis Safety/Loss Control Specialist, Mike Dingle concluded the session by offering praise directed at the MVSD and the participating agencies for making the safety and security of its students and staff priority. He also stated that he looks forward to supporting the district’s continued effort to regularly exercise and update the district’s Emergency Operations Plan moving forward.