Approximately 300 Los Altos School District employees last week brushed up on their emergency response training with members of the Los Altos Police Department.
According to Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis, the police department and school district decided to join forces shortly after the Dec. 14 Newtown, Conn., school shooting. Younis said that while district employees regularly receive code-red training through the district, the Jan. 22 session at Egan Junior High School served as a refresher course that outlined specific responses for district staff and police to take in the event of an on-campus emergency.
“When the tragedy happened in Connecticut, the superintendent (Jeff Baier) and I just talked about making everyone more aware and preparing our response to emergency situations,” Younis said. “We just wanted to get everyone in a room at the same time to go over roles, responsibilities and expectations.”
The joint training session came on the heels of an “intense” crisis response training for members of the Los Altos Police Department in spring 2012, said Younis, who noted that the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado “changed the way we respond to these things.”
Reached by the Town Crier, Baier said the training covered “a broad range of safety situations,” such as fire and earthquake emergencies. The training included shelter-in-place drills, which outlined specific steps such as locking classroom doors and blocking windows prior to law enforcement arriving on scene.
“We’ve had this training in place for a number of years, but it’s always good to update it and make sure we coordinate with law enforcement,” Baier said. “It was useful to know a couple of things, such as what the expectation is from school staff, as well as a clear understanding of what staff can expect from law enforcement.”
Younis noted that an essential part of the training also focused on prevention, such as identifying potentially dangerous situations before an event occurs. Baier said the district’s 600-student school capacity limit allows staff members to be “trained observers on campus” and become familiar with students and parents alike.
“Knowing people on campus, knowing students and knowing parents is of key importance,” Baier concluded. “(The training) was a reminder that the safety of our students and the safety of our staff is the most elemental expectation.”