Kentucky Public Schools Are First to Join Nationwide Preparedness Campaign
Kentucky public schools have become the first statewide school system to join FEMA's America's PrepareAthon! campaign promoting preparedness activities.
Approximately 650,000 students, faculty, and staff have been conducting disaster preparedness drills since the start of the school year according to the Kentucky Center for School Safety. "State law requires each Kentucky school to conduct four specific hazard drills within the first thirty instructional days of school starting," said Jon Akers, executive director of the Center, which is based at Eastern Kentucky University.
Two of the drills required by the state (Severe Weather and Earthquake) will be counted toward the FEMA campaign. "We are excited to be part of this initiative as it will help reinforce preparedness in our schools and communities," Akers said.
America's PrepareAthon! is a national, grassroots campaign for action to increase individual and community preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions, and exercises throughout the year, organizations, schools, individuals, and communities around the country practice for relevant, local hazards. The goals of the campaign are to increase the number of people who understand which disasters could happen in their community, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, take action to increase their preparedness, and participate in community resilience planning.
In 2013, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 8/House Bill 354, which changed the state's existing emergency plan law for schools. The bill expanded requirements for schools and districts to include community first responders in their emergency plans, and present an opportunity for review and refinement of emergency and safety practices through continuous improvement. The revisions were made following tragic events occurring in America's schools, ranging from intruders to tornadoes, and focus attention again on the state's goals and efforts to keep students and staff safe. In addition to fire drills, schools must conduct, at a minimum, three other emergency response drills to include one severe weather drill, one earthquake drill and one lockdown drill within the first 30 instructional days of each school year and again during the month of January.
"Our participation in the America's PrepareAthon! campaign reinforces our commitment to school preparedness by promoting the practice and exercise of school preparedness drills," said Akers. "We also encourage our students and staff to share what they learn at school with family members and consider practicing drills at home."
Fifty percent of Americans have not discussed or developed an emergency plan for family members about where to go and what to do in the event of a local disaster, according to a 2014 national survey conducted by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
For more information on Kentucky's school drill requirements, visit the Kentucky Center for School Safety at www.kycss.org/index2.php. For more information about the campaign, contact Jon Akers at (toll free) 877-805-4277.
Published on September 30, 2014