System Credited for Emergency Preparedness

March 7, 2003
The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security showcased a new federal initiative to help schools with emergency preparedness -- particularly for potential terrorist attacks -- at Montgomery Blair High School today, where school system and county officials were credited with having developed a national example of how to respond to crisis situations.

Secretary of Education Rod Paige and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge reviewed emergency response equipment and support with county police and fire and rescue services personnel and discussed with students, parents, teachers, and other officials the challenges of preparing for any kind of emergency.

The Montgomery County Public Schools has won praise for the way in which the 22-day sniper incident was managed last October, particularly with the focus on incident command planning and personnel deployment; mental health issues affecting students, parents, and staff; and inter-agency support that kept schools in session during the ordeal.

During the mid-morning discussion, Paige and Ridge quizzed more than two dozen county government and school system officials, students, parents, and teachers about the crisis planning under way at individual schools and the emergency preparedness efforts at the school system and county level. Staff members from Montgomery Blair High School are featured in new training tapes on the system's Code Blue and Code Red procedures.

The school system also is cited on the new website launched by the Department of Education to provide schools across the nation with information about emergency preparedness for any type of incident, including natural disasters, violent incidents, and terrorist attacks. The new site is available at the link below.

In addition, the department announced the availability of more than $30 million in grants to help schools plan for emergencies.

Details of the school system's plans for emergency preparedness are available below.

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