Emergency plans crucial in crisis

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 8, 2008

While it is impossible to foresee disasters and tragedies like the one experienced Thursday at Portsmouth Notre Dame Elementary, this domestic violence case shows how vital emergency preparedness plans can be.

In a tragic development that the Tri-State has been mostly spared from in recent years, a man stabbed a schoolteacher in front of her 5th grade class. After a standoff, the gunman turned a gun on himself, taking his own life.

A variety of agencies from Scioto County responded, making the scene chaotic at first while the school and other nearby facilities were locked down.

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Most accounts indicate that the Portsmouth Police Department, the Portsmouth Fire Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and other response teams handled an intense and high-stress situation as well as could be expected.

Tragedies like this show the importance of having a clear emergency response plan in place for public and private agencies that include strategies for various situations, as well as one for schools, churches, stores and other areas where the public will be.

It should also give taxpayers a clear indication of why the training for these situations is a wise use of tax dollars.

It is also important that parents, staff and others know this plan and how they should respond when something occurs. Having a clear strategy in place goes a long way toward calming chaos during a crisis and also at providing some structure and comfort to those who may be affected.

Now is the time that it is vitally important that public facilities like courthouses, city buildings and schools constantly analyze their security measures and procedures for allowing access to the public.

As more and more information about this incident becomes available, it will likely shine a light on exactly how effective the emergency response plans and security measures actually were. Even the best systems can be improved upon and enhanced to ensure the public safety.

A long, hard evaluation now can save lives later.