By JOY BROWN
First responders throughout Hancock County are developing plans for how they should react to a school shooting incident.
According to Mayor Lydia Mihalik, a committee comprised of various emergency personnel has been meeting every two weeks since December to develop a countywide response policy.
The group hopes to complete a “field operating guide” by June “that would contain a response plan for each city and county school, and include information on specific rally points, incident command sites, triage areas, and staging locations for incoming responders,” Mihalik told City Council this week.
The committee will also create a Geographic Information System (GIS) map with this information on each school, she said.
Guides will be printed, and the information will be accessible to first responders via an application for electronic devices.
“The goal is to create a unified response and have a quick and easy guide for the law, fire, and medical first responders to reference when responding to an active shooter event. The initial moments of a terrible event such as this are critical to establishment command, initiating law response, and caring for the wounded,” Mihalik said.
The planning by first responders comes after Findlay City Schools last fall conducted ALICE training, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. It instructs teachers, staff and students how to better their survival odds if a person enters a building and starts shooting.
The company that offers the program bills it as “the first active shooter response program in the U.S.” It also trains hospitals, businesses, churches and other places where several people regularly gather and work.
Following the school training, Findlay’s Emergency Medical Service Committee realized a school shooting event within the city would require response from the whole county.
Involved in guide development have been representatives of the Findlay Fire Department and Police Department, Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, State Highway Patrol, Hanco Ambulance and Blanchard Valley Hospital.
“Command officers from all disciplines began discussing previous national events and quickly realized the need for a coordinated pre-plan when responding to an active shooter event at any school located in Hancock County,” Mihalik explained.
At an upcoming meeting of City Council’s Appropriations Committee, council will consider whether to approve paying half the $12,500 bill for manuals that will be printed and posted online.
The city is pursuing other funding sources, but in the interim, the Hancock County commissioners have agreed to split the cost with the city, Mihalik said.
The guides are expected to remain valid for about 10 years.
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