Following the tragic Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Hays County and local school districts assure parents and students there are safety protocols in place in the instance of an emergency situation.
According to a county press release, Hays County officials instituted a School Safety Protocol (SSP) program in 2013 that’s been adopted by every school, both public and private, and at many government offices.
Kharley Smith, Hays County director of emergency services, said in a statement the SSP was created in the wake of a shooting and SWAT standoff incident near Wimberley. The incident required the lockdown of a nearby Wimberley-area school.
Will Conley, former Hays County Pct. 3 commissioner, called a meeting of local officials to review lessons from the event.
“The goal of the program is to ensure that all first responders, school authorities and students understand what is being asked of them given any type of dangerous or potentially dangerous situation, be it an active shooter, hazardous material spill, fire or weather emergency,” according to a county statement.
The Hays County Office of Emergency Management Standard Response Protocol Task Force has worked with the sheriff’s office, city of San Marcos Police, all first responders in the county and school officials to conduct drills that practice safety protocols each year.
The Standard Response Protocol is an emergency protocol created by the I Love U Guys Foundation. Many school districts throughout the U.S. use the protocol, which defines action responses to lockout, lockdown, evacuate and shelter situations.
“We wanted to make sure everyone is on the same page with what the terms lockdown, lockout, shelter, and evacuate mean and what each action requires from those affected,” Smith said. “We had amazing cooperation from all the school districts in Hays County, as well as elected officials countywide.”
The task force conducts a training refresher and full lockdown drill on every campus, every year, which is about 70 drills across Hays County, according to the release.
“Officials take campus security very seriously and anything we can do to provide safety and security for our children, teachers, administrators and parents is paramount to our efforts,” Smith said.