District 51 Planning Early Warning System

By: Aaron Luna Email
By: Aaron Luna Email

From school shootings to bomb threats, Grand Valley Emergency responders want to be prepared for anything. And one way to do that is to learn from others who have gone through it.

April 16th, 2007. 32 people were shot and killed on the Virginia Tech campus. It was a shock to Virginia emergency agencies as well as the nation.

"We never anticipated at Virginia Tech at Blacksburg in Montgomery County that this would happen to us," says Neal Turner the Emergency Services Coordinator for Montgomery County in Virginia. Turner says the county had procedures in place they had just never been tested to that level. "To be quite honest a lot of what you learn, you learn in the middle of the event."

Tuesday Turner was at Two Rivers Convention Center to share what was learned, and Tim Leon the safety coordinator for School District 51 was there to listen.

Leon says there are always situations the District can learn from. "The bomb threat at Grand Junction High School. There was a situation just before Christmas at Nisley. We can always improve and that's why we are here."

One thing Virginia Tech implemented after the deadly shooting was an early warning system that sends an alert to people's cell phones emails and blackberry's. Something Mesa State College already does and something District 51 is trying to do.

Leon says, "we're creating a text message system to get the message out to parents and others.. when there is a situation at a particular school." The District is working with 911 dispatch to refine the system. Leon says they hope to have it ready soon. "At the beginning of next school year we'll have some messaging system in place." To make sure everyone is connected, prepared and hopeful that it's a procedure nobody has to use.

The Western Colorado All Hazards Conference takes place once a year and continues through the end of the work week.


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