Bartels: Proactively addressing school safety

Posted by: Jordan Wallace  | Friday, January 15, 2021

Schools do a tremendous job protecting our students, implementing safety measures like security check points, requiring additional background checks for parents and hiring school resource officers. These are great preventative measures, but there's always room for improvement. This is why I proposed legislation that would allow school corporations, along with sheriff departments, to apply for funds to improve communication and response times for local and state agencies in the rare event of an emergency.

Currently, for every emergency situation, public safety professionals conduct After-Action Reports to summarize the situation and identify better response strategies. First responders have said that having access to uniformed and digital blueprints, accessible by all first response agencies, would improve response times. Under my legislation, school corporations and sheriff departments could apply for funds to implement a state-of-the art blueprint system to help emergency personnel better communicate and respond in emergency situations.

For example, in the rare event of an emergency situation at a school, like an active shooter, emergency personnel are working together to quickly control the situation. Resource officers are controlling the situation inside, 911 dispatchers are relaying pertinent information to first responders, and police, firefighters and medical personnel are strategizing and ready to enter the building to help. Everyone is working together, but each response group may be using different blueprints or may not have any plans at all. If schools could implement a digital, enhanced and uniform mapping system, everyone would access the plans simultaneously and plan coordinated efforts all from a phone or tablet.

All schools could apply for funds in collaboration with sheriff departments. Once implemented, the building schematics would be uniform, more detailed and accessible to all emergency response agencies. Any group could reference a room, corner, blind spot or common area quickly and with confidence that the information they have is up-to-date.

While we hope we never need to use these tools and training for an emergency situation, it is critical we are prepared. Keeping Hoosiers safe is always one of my priorities, and this is one way I believe we can be proactive to protect our schools. If you have other ideas or opinions in how we can improve school safety, please contact me any time by calling 317-232-9802 or emailing h74@iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74,
which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
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