As school employees prepare to begin the upcoming year, many are going over their institution's safety policies.
At St. Edmond, staff heard a presentation by Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody on Wednesday; he talked about the roles of law enforcement, emergency services and school employees during a crisis.
"Who is responsible for school safety?" Carmody asked school staff gathered in the auditorium. "Everybody is responsible for school safety."
There are four components of school safety: mitigation and prevention, preparedness, response and recovery, he said. There are also four possible emergency responses that would require attention: lockouts, lockdowns, evacuations and shelters.
A lockout is a response to an emergency situation outside the school building; a lockdown is a response to a threat inside.
Schools like St. Edmond, Carmody said, need plans for each type of response, not just for a situation such as a shooter inside the building.
In the event the school needs to evacuate, Carmody said the school should have a pre-determined plan for what to do and where to go.
"It's not just about getting away," he said. "You need to have a plan in place. Create a plan and apply it properly. Just leaving is not always the best idea."
Without a plan in place, Carmody said different groups might wander off in different directions, which would cause another situation in which people can't be found.
In any emergency, the chief said while the situation can be stressful, those in charge should do their best to remain calm to keep the students from panicking.
"Be that calming voice," he said.
While the information provided may have seemed frightening, Carmody said the goal was not to scare anybody.
"We're trying to mentally prepare you for what could happen," he said. "If it doesn't happen, that's great. But if it does happen, you'll know how to get that information out of that mental filing cabinet and say, 'I know how to do this.'"
Carmody said meetings such as the one Wednesday help establish the relationship between the police and local schools.
"When a crisis unfolds it's important to know how to effectively handle it," he said. "It impacts the kids, staff, parents and the city."
St. Edmond High School Principal John Howard said the meeting provided a refresher for school employees on the safety procedures.
"It's always good for staff to review our safety plans," he said.
Howard added that since Carmody began giving safety presentations two years ago, the school has made an effort to make the buildings safer.
"The staff and students are now accustomed to it," he said. "It gives us a sense of awareness and lets us know we have to be ready."