A safety plan developed for Campbell County, Wyo., School District in 1999 has been recognized statewide and even outside Wyoming as a model of efficiency, according to county officials.
The program addresses both security and fire safety in a single plan and audits schools for their resistance against intrusion and various catastrophes. It aims to simplify emergency response and includes the coordinated participation of school officials, police, and fire safety personnel, making it ideal for districts operating under limited resources.
Campbell County Sheriff Byron Oedekoven and Fire Chief Gary Scott spoke about the system during a recent meeting of the Wyoming State Fire Marshals Association meeting.
Also attending the meeting were representatives of the Wyoming Department of Education, the nation’s top two school architect companies, other school districts, and law enforcement agencies.
The meeting focused on combining fire safety measures and security precautions in school safety programs. Oedekoven said the meeting produced two significant results.
One, the architects were surprised and pleased to hear that fire and security measures could be implemented side by side.
Two, officials recommended creating a statewide committee to draft standards for both fire safety and security in schools. Officials believe it is the first time a state has considered such action.
Schools are currently required to meet fire safety standards, including regular fire drills. But no agency checks for school security.
Officials began working on Campbell County’s plan in early 1999, shortly before the shootings at Columbine High School that killed 15.
School Resource Officer Bill Elger developed the program, which involves audits that check for such things as access to buildings, how students are supervised at critical times, student reporting, building design, and coordination with law enforcement agencies.
The plan has piqued interest around the nation. Both the National Sheriffs’ Association and the International Fire Chiefs’ Association have spoken with Oedekoven and Scott about the program.
Recently Scott met with Bill Modzeleski, director of Safe and Drug Free Schools branch of the U.S. Department of Education, and the county was invited to help develop a national safe schools program.
“When I’m asked to talk about it, one of the things people find most incredible is the relationship the emergency services have in this community,” Scott said.
Anyone interested in learning more about Campbell County’s emergency plan can contact Bill Elger by phone at (307) 682-5155 or by fax at (307) 687-1682.