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Emergency drills help, ‘demonstrations’ don’t


I do not believe that any person of intellect is opposed to protecting school children from potential violence. The manner in which it is done is where polarization occurs.

There is considerable difference between an Emergency Response Demonstration and an Emergency Response Drill. The former is choreographed, all participants know when, where, time, and the ‘role” they will play. A Drill is a surprise to all save the leaders of the participating Agencies. It is as close a replication as possible to a real event.

A Drill is a traumatizing event - the site, first responders, all present must react under the duress of adrenaline and the urge to panic. A Drill gives all a best reading as to how protocols, procedures, policies, and preparation stand up when called on to do so with no prior warning.

What was ballyhooed last week in Westerly was an Emergency Response Demonstration. All organizers and participants deserve praise for their expertise, time, and effort. Other than placating the Public that “ We are prepared”, it accomplished little.

Under the leadership of Superintendents Augeri, DiPaolo, Blanda, the Westerly School District

conducted annual Emergency Response Drills at each and every school. Via those Drills, the true capacity of a school in session, with all students, faculty, and staff present, was measured. Oft times, there was praise for response given - at times there was admonition given for lack of proper response.

As a Parent, I would want my child’s school to conduct Emergency Response Drills - not Dog and Pony Show Demonstrations, If I were a Superintendent, I would want to know that Emergency Response worked when it was not pre-announced. If I were a Police Chief, I would want to know the real time SWAT takes to be on site - it is certainly not 7 minutes. Were I a Fire Chief or Ambulance Corps Director, I would want to know there was at least one alternate roadway to arrive at a school should the primary route be blocked.

Jim Spellman

Groton



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