‘This is only a drill’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2006

WINDSOR – How would Bertie County Public School officials and emergency responders react if there was a threat of danger against innocent schoolchildren?

Hopefully, a recent drill answered that question.

Over the last two weeks of October, school officials worked closely with the Bertie Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management Services (EMS) with drills designed to lock down school buildings in the event of a threat.

The new Lock Down Policy was previously approved by the Bertie Board of Education in response to a school improvement plan and security procedures. Bertie Public Schools Associate Superintendent Thomas Ruffin referred to the policy as “adding an ounce of energy that is worth a pound of cure.”

“We are indebted to (Bertie) Sheriff (Greg) Atkins and Rickey Freeman, who removed his hat as a member of this school board and wore the hat of our county’s EMS Director,” Ruffin said. “We needed to have a lockdown drill and these two men and their departments responded.”

Freeman said the drills went extremely well.

“We were really impressed with the attitude of the students,” Freeman said. “They responded very well to the situation.”

After evaluating the drills, Freeman said he saw a need for all classrooms to bear some type of marking visible from the outside in order for emergency responders to distinguish in which areas of a building where students may be located. He also suggested that custodial areas and storage rooms within school buildings remained locked at all times.

Ruffin reported a need for numbers to be posted on the buildings at Bertie High School.

“We know where the ‘300 Building’ is, but the emergency responders may not,” he noted.

Additionally, Ruffin said substitute teachers at all schools should be brought up to speed on the lockdown procedures.

“We have compiled a list of needed items and will forward that list to the Superintendent,” Ruffin closed.

Freeman said additional drills are scheduled with more emergency responders involved.