By BRIAN BOHNERT
Student safety was the topic of discussion Thursday as more than 40 people, including police officers, firefighters, city officials and educators gathered under one roof to discuss the Safe Schools Initiative.
Representatives from Fostoria City Schools, St. Wendelin Catholic School, Fostoria Fire Division, Fostoria Police Department, Ohio and Seneca County emergency management agencies, the city of Fostoria, and others met inside Fostoria Junior/Senior High School for more than four hours Thursday to discuss procedures and scenarios for handling a wide variety of emergency situations.
Each group took their turn as different emergency scenarios were addressed, describing their plan of action and what roles they would all take to ensure the safest outcomes possible.
“The most rewarding piece is learning about all the resources that are available and how it comes to action; and, for the community, it’s great to see all of these agencies coming together with the schools,” Fostoria City Schools Superintendent Andrew Sprang said.
While getting all of the different agencies under one roof was impressive in its own right, Sprang said the resulting increase in communication is even more important when trying to get everyone on the same page.
“Terminology is very important,” he said. “In these situations, you have to understand what everybody’s saying. So, it’s good to have that discussion.”
Mayor Eric Keckler said he was very impressed with the meeting and he now feels even more confident in the collaborative effort.
“Really, what (the meeting) really reinforced to me is that we have a lot of very educated individuals who already have a pretty good idea of what we need to do and when we need to do it,” he said. “Now, it’s just getting that communication from each part … It’s encouraging to know that everybody has the tools; we just need to make sure we put them together so they work together in a cohesive plan.”
In the next few weeks, Sprang said the group plans to get together to review and critique Thursday’s discussion to determine what needs to be improved on. In addition, he said future plans include hosting a “full-scale” live presentation of an emergency scenario to put the planning to the test.
“These plans are ever changing,” he said. “It’s never going to be something you say is done. It’s something you have to stay on top of and be very vigilant with.”
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