Public Safety
3:30 am
Sun March 17, 2013

Are PA Schools Prepared for Emergencies? Lawmakers Want to Know

Pennsylvania lawmakers are asking schools at all levels to help them understand how they are preparing for an emergency like the one seen at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. 

Senate members decided to explore the topic after a hearing last month on school safety raised more questions about emergency planning in child care centers, buses and colleges than it answered.

State Senator Tim Solobay (D-Washington County) gathered school officials last week for a meeting of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness. He asked them to share their plans for dealing with emergency situations of all types.

“The more you can make folks aware of their surroundings and what to do in the case of an emergency that is the best you can do in a lot of cases," Solobay said, "because unfortunately every type of situation cannot be prepared for and countered. All we can do is help people out on how to react if something bad should occur.”

Solobay said he was encouraged that many organizations from preschools to the 14 state system of higher education universities are either planning or have implemented new emergency protocols. However, he said more needs to be done.

“There are some best practices out there that a lot of places are utilizing,” said Solobay, who also stressed that the state needs to make sure its institutions of higher education are following the public safety training standards that were put in place by the legislature several years ago.

“Unfortunately no matter how much we do to prepare and make things better, there is still that outside element that could occur and unfortunately happen regardless,” he said.

Solobay said the key is being aware, having a plan in place and drilling on those plans so they will be second nature when the need should arise.