How to keep the children and staff as safe as they can be was the priority when USD 409 and Homeland Security officials recently conducted a safety audit and standard review of all facilities.

“Safety is always a concern,” said Superintendent Susan Myers.

Department of Homeland Security Protective Security Advisors joined for forces with USD 409 administrators, custodians and maintenance staff for the two-day review on April 16 and 17.

The recent study of safety measures is the third review of this nature for the district. The first was conducted in 2010 in cooperation with Kansas Safe and Prepared Schools. The second audit and review took place in 2014 with Department of Homeland Security, according to a press release issued from the district.

The review team has made a few recommendations for school officials to ponder as well as informational tips to better ensure safety practices and updates.

Some recommendations for implementation that might soon be in the public eye are:

Installation of additional security cameras, panic buttons and evacuation maps at various places throughout the buildings.

Music piping through the intercom system when school is not in session in effort to better check sound and ensure it works properly throughout facilities.

Installation of detectors in the mechanical room to better monitor problems inside and outside facilities.

Installation of additional eye wash stations in facilities instead the traditional placements that have mostly been in the art, science and chemistry classrooms.

Installations of tourniquets in emergency supply bags. Myers said these bags are already accessible in every classroom and offices in each of the district buildings for first-aid purposes.

Posting of safety data sheets and label all containers for all cleaning supplies and chemical solvents.

Adding smoke detectors and counter sprinkler systems in the technology rooms.

Post more highly visible and three-dimensional signage for the Automated External Defibrillator.

Some safety measures implemented throughout the years might have been be more noticeable than others.

Myers said as a result of a previous review came the buzz-in systems for access into the schools, which was a major expense.

Other items visible to the public included cameras at front entries, lettering to identify each outside entrance, updated locks on classroom doors and signage to identify AED placements, emergency bags, first aid kits, eye wash station and exits, the press release indicated. Plans for the next safety review are in the works to take place within a two-year time frame.

In addition to the structural and equipment enhancements, school officials take part in other safety practices.

Myers said she and some staff members have participated in various crisis training in past years and keep up with the current Homeland Security recommendations for crisis management models. The current emphasis to become trainers, she said.

Mary Meyers can be reached at mary.meyers@npgco.com.

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