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Medina County agencies training against school threats

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    Area police, fire and school officials attend the second day of a three-day school safety program presented by the National Sheriffs' Association on Wednesday at the Medina County Career Center.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    National Sheriffs' Association instructor Chris Gandia discusses school safety Wednesday with area police, fire and school officials at the Medina County Career Center.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — For the first time in Medina County history, all the agencies that would have an active role in a school emergency are participating in a national training program.

“The training program that we are running today is the School Based Threat Risk and Vulnerability Assessment,” program instructor Chris Gandia said during a lunch break Wednesday at the Medina County Career Center.

The idea behind the program is to get the different agencies that would have a role to play in an emergency situation at a school together so they can learn from each other, Gandia said. The training began Tuesday morning and will conclude this afternoon, he said.

Will Koran, superintendent of the Educational Service Center of Medina County, said the idea to bring the National Sheriffs’ Association program to Medina County took root after the February school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.

“I set up a meeting back in March where we brought in superintendents, police chiefs and fire chiefs, and we talked about some of the things that are being done here with the vulnerability assessment,” Koran said.

“We agreed at that time we were going to continue to keep in conversation with each other.”

Koran said county Sheriff Tom Miller attended the same sheriffs’ association training in Rhode Island, and thought it would be a good idea to do in Medina County.

Participants Wednesday included maintenance personnel, principles, fire and police chiefs and directors of public safety, Koran said.

“They are all here so that everyone is going to be speaking the exact same language,” he said.

In addition to threats ranging from an active shooter to a vehicle ramming, the training covers environmental threats such as tornados, heat and cold weather, Gandia said

“For a lot of agencies and a lot of school districts, sometimes this is the first time they have actually done cross-

training with different cultures,” Gandia said. “It is a very powerful experience for them to be able to see each other’s point of views and make sure their expectations are on the same page.”

Over the course of the three days, participants separated into small groups where they were given scenarios and then reported back with how they would address those, Koran said.

“What you would do, what you see as a flaw, how this relates back to maybe your own community,” Koran said.

Black River Schools Superintendent Chris Clark said he enjoyed leaning about “the four D’s”: deterrence, detection, delaying and defending.

“They taught us the four D’s, and the one thing is, how when we are creating safety plans really what we are trying to do is reduce that window of opportunity,” Clark said.

Lodi Police Chief Keith Keough said everyone in attendance has been learning from each other.

“Generally law enforcement will train together, fire departments do their own thing and we almost never deal with the schools,” he said. “We are building relationships.”

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.
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