Local Principals Train for Emergency Situations

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Kingston, Roane County (WVLT) - As more gun incidents pop up in schools across the country, one East Tennessee county is preparing its schools to handle such emergencies.

For the first time ever, the Roane County Emergency Management Agency is teaching an all-hazards planning class to its school principals, making sure they're ready to respond, whatever may come their way.

"Everything from natural events, such as tornados and earthquakes, to man-made events, active shooters, domestic violence or terrorists," Roane County EMA Director Howie Rose is training these school principals for the worst. "They're responsible for their school and their school's emergency plan."

And more importantly, "the safety of the students," Midtown Elementary Principal Nell Bilbrey says knowing how to react in an emergency is a learning process. "It probably will never happen exactly how you have it planned out, but we practice and we train a lot."

Bilbrey says one of the most difficult emergencies to train for is a school shooting.

"It makes you feel very scared," says Bilbrey.

Bilbrey says if a shooting were to come to Midtown, they'd go into lockdown. "We try to make the school look as if no one is in there, absolutely silent."

Today they're learning more about identifying a shooter.

"They may have discipline problems that come up during the way that may tip educators off," but Rose says many emergencies come without warning.

"These children are my responsibility," that's where Kingston Police School Resource Officer Sergeant Bo Smith steps into help. "Nobody should come into this school without going through that office first."

Smith says he has to keep a closer eye out in the school halls more than ever...

"Times are changing. It's getting dangerous now," Sgt. Smith says.

Which is why Bilbrey says this emergency training session is vital, "we've each discovered an area today that maybe we weren't aware of."

Knox County School Spokesman Russ Oaks tells WVLT their principals receive annual emergency response training during in-service days.