For Immediate Release
April 18, 2007
ISBE, State Police and Terrorism Task Force team up to provide school safety training
Training ISP Safety Education Officers to assist schools in planning for emergency planning
Springfield, Ill. – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), Illinois State Police (ISP) and the Illinois Terrorism Task Force announced today they are teaming up to improve local school security by training all ISP Safety Education Officers (SEO) to be multi-hazard instructors for their local school districts. The training is part of a larger effort to better prepare Illinois schools to plan for and manage a variety of possible hazardous events.
"Schools are supposed to be safe havens for our children, but the reality of today is that we must be vigilant in planning for any and all types of hazards, whether it's a tornado, terrorism or something else," said Interim State School Superintendent Christopher Koch. "Working together both locally, and within state government, we're preparing our schools and first responders to better deal with any hazardous incident that may arise."
This week, the Illinois State Board of Education, through a grant funded by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, will be training ISP Safety Education Officers to become instructors in "Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools." The course is designed to provide the SEO's with the skills and tools they need to develop effective emergency operations plans for a wide variety of potential critical incidents that a school may experience. The SEO's will then be able to serve as instructors and advisers providing training and technical assistance to schools within their region.
"Our SEO's will be able to provide updated training and technical assistance to their local schools. Having these trainers located throughout the state ensures that ISP can deliver broadbased training related to important safety issues," said ISP Director Larry Trent. "This is yet another resource that we can provide throughout our communities in order to improve school safety in Illinois."
In total, 25 SEO's in 21 districts are undergoing the "Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Illinois Schools" to become local instructors. The training includes how to instruct local school personnel about emergency operations management, hazard analysis, critical incident response procedures and testing emergency response plans. The "Multi-Hazard Planning for Schools" initiative began in December 2004, and has since trained more than 2,600 participants from nearly 700 public schools districts. Having additional trainers stationed throughout the Illinois State Police district offices will allow for ongoing and updated training.
"The most successful emergency planning starts at the local level, that is why it is so important to have trainers available as additional resources on a regional basis," said Mike Chamness, Chairman of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force. "State coordination is making it possible for better local planning; giving schools the tools they need in order to manage an emergency until first responders arrive."
The training supports the School Safety Drill Act, which Governor Blagojevich signed into law in August 2005 as part of his vision aimed at providing better protection for the state's school children during emergencies. He directed ITTF, ISBE and the Office of the State Fire Marshal to work with schools and first responders to ensure that schools drill effectively and address the hazards facing schools in today's world. Under the School Safety Drill Act schools must work closely with emergency first responder agencies in conducting annual reviews of emergency and crisis response plans, as well as conduct three evacuation drills, one bus evacuation and one severe weather drill each school year.