New law has school officials, emergency crews prepped ahead of d - News, Weather & Sports

New law has school officials, emergency crews prepped ahead of disaster

Field Elementary Principal Deb Rivera Field Elementary Principal Deb Rivera
LMPD 8th Division Major Barry Wilkerson LMPD 8th Division Major Barry Wilkerson

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As Jefferson County kids head back to class, parents might be glad to know about a change in Kentucky law that could make all kids a little more secure in the event of an emergency.

In a way, the law mandates what parents might hope is happening anyway. It requires schools to work with emergency responders -- police, fire and emergency medical workers -- to make sure if an emergency happens, there's no miscommunication.

Preparing for a tornado, severe storm or some other emergency is nothing new. Schools can be a target for any disaster and students have to be ready. Now more than ever, it's a way of life.

"The teachers will begin reviewing them on the first day of school," said Field Elementary Principal Deb Rivera.

She says new this year, by Kentucky law, all schools have to provide a copy of their emergency plan to first responders by October, getting them involved before a disaster hits.

In addition, Rivera said, "We are required now to report all of our drills to first responders in advance to give them the option of coming."

That means emergency crews now have some homework of their own.

"We're actually making a folder for each school," LMPD 8th Division Major Barry Wilkerson said.

He says diagrams and plans for each school will be accessible at a moment's notice. Wilkerson says LMPD had already been working with many Jefferson County Public Schools. This makes sure even smaller, private schools are part of the proactive planning.

"I think that's where this may help is that it's more organized in how we do this," Wilkerson said. "We've always dealt with them, always had the rapport but are we having that face to face, making the drills, making sure that everything's in order."

At Field Elementary, at least one part of the plan is easier than at some other schools.  It has a basement.  During severe weather, all 420 students and 60 staff members gather together.

"There's always a sigh of relief when we bring parents down here and we show them our basement and we say every student, every staff member can fit down here," Rivera said.  "You can always see that look of relief on their face. It's like, 'Ahhh, they're going to be safe.'"

The new Kentucky law also tightens up building security across the Commonwealth. Each school has to have control the front entrance electronically or with a greeter, keep doors locked and every person who comes in the school -- including parents -- will have to show their ID.

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