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Are Geneva Schools Prepared for Disaster?

Readiness and Emergency Management program provides training classes and evacuation equipment for District 304, St. Peter and Faith Christian schools.

Nearly 70 more staff members in School District 304 have been certified to perform CPR and use an external defibrillator since April, thanks to the $374,545 federal Readiness and Emergency Management grant the district received in February, the Board of Education learned Monday.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, reported REMS program administrators Charles “Chic” Williams and Amy Campbell. So far the district has hosted seven workshops that trained hundreds of school employees, police officers and firefighters, with more training programs scheduled.

“We’ve learned a lot in a short while, and we have a lot of learning left to do,” Campbell said.

Workshop participants have studied the National Incident Management System, which is the Department of Homeland Security’s blueprint for emergency management plans; school nurses’ triage protocols; the four stages of emergency management; first response standards set by the Texas Engineering Extension Service; psychological first aid for traumatized children; and responding to school bombs. On Oct. 6, staff at both Geneva middle schools will attend a seminar on how to handle a school shooting.

Campbell and Williams also have bought 600 emergency “to go” backpacks, which they will distribute among the district’s classrooms. Each bag contains first aid equipment, notebooks and pens, bottled water, a windup flashlight and other items teachers might need to care for their students during a disaster. The grant also funded the purchase of 50 “mega mover” transport slings to help evacuate disabled students; 10 new two-way radios; and radio signal boosters for each school building.

The district plans to buy security cameras, identify safe sites where parents can pick up their children after disasters and produce binders with maps and information about building utility hookups so that staff can shut off utilities when needed. A full-scale disaster drill, which will use local volunteers to portray students, is being planned at Heartland Elementary School.

“My involvement in this grant has been really eye-opening,” Williams said. “We’re excited about getting other community members involved.”

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