Ky. schools step up emergency training

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Associated Press

Posted on December 13, 2013 at 7:02 PM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky schools have stepped up their training for emergencies in the year since 26 people were shot to death at a Connecticut elementary school.

The Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/1c0Y16N ) reports more schools in Kentucky are asking for staff training, which can include police firing blanks or teachers running to hide or fighting a role-playing attacker.

Kentucky passed new laws for public schools requiring revisions of emergency management plans, consultations with first responders and specific time frames for student drills.

Lexington Catholic High School Principal Sally Stevens says awareness is heightened any time there's a school shooting, but she says the Connecticut school shooting had a particular impact.

"It was the Christmas season. It was little kids ... all of us need to be aware that it could be anywhere at any school at any time," Stevens said.

Lexington Catholic staff plan to take training next month, and there's a new set of main entrance doors locked all day, forcing visitors to buzz in.

"We're not going to prevent 100 percent of these acts," Stephens said. "If we can't prevent it, how are we going to mitigate the results? The key to that is training."

The Sandy Hook shootings drew a "very significant" response from Kentucky schools, said Jon Akers, director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety.

"We picked up lessons learned from the situation and did all we could to enhance emergency management training in the schools."

KSP Lt. Brent White says the agency launched a statewide Active Shooter Survival Training Program and so far has trained about 1,000 people.

Firing blanks from an AK-47 is not for a "shock and awe effect," said White, but to allow school staff to understand the difference in sounds: "Is a car backfiring in the parking lot, or is somebody popping popcorn, or is that a door that just slammed, or is that somebody that just entered a school firing a weapon?"

Jessamine County deputy superintendent Matt Moore said his district changed some safety training after Sandy Hook.

"Sandy Hook has caused us to look at the material we were covering and make some adjustments on that," he said.

The active shooter training, Moore said, "was an eye opener for employees. You could actually follow a police officer going through and clearing rooms, you could actually follow the intruder and see how the intruder may respond."

"It helped us gain a perspective and an appreciation for our vulnerabilities as well as some next steps that we need to take," Moore said.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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