AVON, Ohio — The Avon school community is likely better prepared to respond to a serious threat following a recent safety forum.
The city’s police department hosted the forum Aug. 15 to educate staff, students and residents on how to respond in an emergency, such as a school shooting. The department also explained how police and schools are working together to stay vigilant and prepared.
Police Chief Daniel Fishbach and his security forces hosted the presentation evening. About 100 people attended.
There were several speakers from the school district and several videos presented to the public on safety issues. The city’s security forces participated in a previous security summit and brought back very useful information for the forum.
Addressing the wave of school shootings across the country, the public first received a profile of the typical personality type who leans towards committing such violence.
The majority of people who commit these types of violent acts have at least one of the following characteristics, if not two, forum presenters noted.
Intense and growing anger
An interest in weapons
An expressed desire to hurt someone
Signs of depression or isolation
thoughts of suicide or self-harm
interest in violence
By recognizing any of these characteristics, the school district has mental health resources.
First, however, everyone was reminded of the importance of “seeing something, saying something”. It has been noted that if you see something and say something, prevention is a better opportunity than having to react to an incident.
There are also school counselors and social workers in the district, as well as those who may be contracted out. This year, a second social worker is recruited so that there is one in high school and one in college.
It was noted that there is an annual survey of students, allowing them to provide feedback on security issues. Interestingly, it was noted that the recent had more comments about depression and suicidal thoughts than the usual comments about drugs and alcohol.
It is therefore clear that additional support is needed in schools in addition to ongoing support around alcohol and drugs.
In elementary schools, school counselors speak to classes once a week or at least once a month, with an emphasis on preventive measures. There is also a support group specifically for girls.
The district now has two school resource officers. They maintain high visibility, teach classes and organize lectures for students on security measures.
School emergency plans are in place but are not made public for security reasons. All plans are submitted to the Ohio Department of Safety as required.
Monthly fire drills are held for multiple reasons – not just the well-known, long-running fire drills. Drills also include “active threat” evacuations and “run, hide, fight” tactics that are taught to students and staff.
Ongoing “tabletop” discussions of all possible scenarios within schools provide plenty of training for staff members.
Parents are encouraged to discuss the information provided with their children.
It was also noted that staff are required to take CPR courses and now the Stop The Bleed course. The police department provides Stop the Bleed kits to schools.
“We have training — lots of staff training — including running, hiding and fighting scenarios,” Fishbach said.
“Our police arrive and train all the staff in the technique. We can assure everyone (that) the forces of the department are well trained and well motivated.
For questions about school safety measures, contact the Fishbach office at 440-934-7527.
There is also an anonymous phone line at 440-934-7635.
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