Archived Story

Preparing schools for emergencies

Published 10:42pm Monday, December 17, 2012

Capt. Tim Wright with the Tryon Police Department who is a local law enforcement instructor, said every one to two years, local law enforcement trains for rapid deployment at schools. School staff is invited to participate in the training in order to be prepared, Wright said.

Wright said Polk County High School teachers all have walkie-talkies, which is helpful for communications and those channels are heard over law enforcement radios.

Local parents have been shocked to think something so tragic could happen in a small town. Tryon Elementary School, for example, has 450 students, approximately the same amount as Sandy Hook.

Parents were visibly shaken taking their kids into the classroom Monday with some parents crying as they said goodbye to their children.

Local parents offered their grief and suggestions of how to better protect schools through Facebook following the tragedy.

“First of all, I am so deeply saddened to even begin to try and fathom what the family and friends of the victims, and the survivors and their families are going through,” said parent Jenny Bland. “Our prayers are with them! From what I understand, Newtown is a small, close and friendly community, like the wonderful area we live in, and only about 8,000 people larger than Polk County. My daughter is in 4th grade at TES (Tryon Elementary School), and I have never, ever felt she was unsafe, but when you realize that something so horrendous could happen to innocent people in an area about our size, it goes without saying that our schools are going to have a challenge ahead of them to make parents, and even the children that know what happened in Conneticut. feel safe. I have no doubt that TES has the most wonderful teachers and administrators that would do anything within their power to protect my child. For that I feel very blessed!!”

Parent, coach and teacher Jenny McGrane Wolfe said she is humbled.

“My first thought was…if my child were a victim…and my next was…how could I protect my students if someone presented death and destruction,” Wolfe said. “I feel as helpless as those who died must have felt. I know as the only authority in a classroom I would present the first line of defense as a natural reaction, which would only expose a helpless target. I don’t have any answers only the Lord does. May he shield our community from such a tragedy.”

Wolfe, like many others, also said if someone wants to kill someone they can. In the Connecticut case, if the shooter had asked to enter the school as a relative of a teacher he would have been admitted, she said.

“With an armed escort, he could shoot the guard. With metal detectors and all doors locked he could stand on the outside and kill as people exit,” said Wolfe. “If someone wants to kill they can find a way. The only way your child is safe is by God’s grace.”

Suggestions from parents went strongly for locking doors from the outside but able to open from the inside so there is no safety issues. Others suggested law enforcement officers and metal detectors.

“It starts with parents and how we raise our children,” Olivia Whiteside said. “Schools need to be safe, doors locked and children/teachers/parents taught the appropriate safety measures. But something has shifted and changed in the last 25 years. I don’t ever remember school shootings ever being reported growing up. Columbine was the first and that was when I was graduating from college. I agree metal detectors and guards can be scary and unwelcoming especially in an elementary school. We had one (guard) at Polk County High and I honestly don’t think they deterred anyone and they would never be able to take a gunman. Apparently something is going wrong on a deeper level and we need to worry more about reaching those who are about to snap and stop it and prevent it. If they want to get into the school and do some damage, they will find a way. Two school shooters did it from afar rather than in the school. Had they gotten the appropriate help to begin with perhaps it could have been prevented.”

Amy Hyder Corrigan said she has a student in Boiling Springs (Spartanburg County District 2), which has an armed resource officer.

“His office is in clear view of the only unlocked door in the building, the main office,” Corrigan said. “He has a taser and gun. I think gun control would be an officer taking down the perp (etrator) and lessen the chance of others getting hurt or killed. Taking away all the guns from the law-abiding citizens is not the answer. Criminals don’t go out and register and buy their guns through legal channels anyhow.”

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