As local officials are learning, putting together an emergency plan in case of a school shooting requires attention to detail and consideration of numerous scenarios.
Members of the Mason County School District, Maysville Police Department, Mason County Sheriff's Office, Kentucky State Police, Maysville Fire Department, Mason County Emergency Management, Meadowveiw Regional Medical Center and others came together Monday to review what plans are in place now and what additional work is required to have a solid working plan.
Led by the Maysville Police Department, school officials shared with law enforcement their plans in order to get feedback and have questions answered. Law enforcement and other first responders explained their plan of action should a shooting occur, with everyone involved understanding no matter how good the plan is, something unforeseen can and will happen.
"We need to get the basics in place. Will we deviate from that plan? Sure, we probably will, but that's what this is about," MPD Lt. Justin Horch said.
Over and over, it was pointed out each school needs to have a written plan available to school personnel, so that time isn't wasted in a moment of crisis and chaos as to who is responsible for what, when and how to contact first responders, all while checking on students and trying to identify where the shooter is and how many shooters there are.
It was also discussed how to notify parents about where to pick up children, once the situation is under control and the shooter neutralized.
"If you could have a simple check list ... so when it hits the fan ... it goes through that chain of command," said Horch. "If it's not written down, it's not going to happen."
Chief Ron Rice said the most important information law enforcement will need to know if such a situation occurs is "how many shooters and where are they."
It was also pointed out communication between the targeted school, central office and the district's other three schools is crucial to maintaining order and safety at the unaffected schools through lock downs and traffic control. Discussion also centered around how to evacuate students from the campus and managing the public and parents arriving at the scene.
Thrown into the discussion was the role of MFD first responders for medical assistance to any victims and how the hospital is prepared to handle such an emergency.
KSP Post 8 Commander Brian Bowling congratulated the school district and local agencies on their work to establish an emergency plan. Bowling said of the districts in the Post 8 coverage area, Mason County and Montgomery County are ahead of the rest, and KSP will be able to incorporate those plans into their own strategy of dealing with a school shooting.
Since the beginning of the year and in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, emergency drills have taken place at all four Mason County schools related to a possible school shooting or hostage situation. Plans include more of the same exercises in the future, with scenarios representing as true-to-life situations as possible, while maintaining safety at the school.