When it comes to emergencies, be it a broken pipe or a school shooting, education and law-enforcement officials in Washington state believe most of their public schools are prepared—and the state has earned an award for making that happen.
Using federal money made available in the aftermath of the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs in 2001 launched an initiative to “map” all 2,250 schools in the state. The process involves bringing together floor plans, aerial photographs, response plans, relocation points, and evacuation routes.
In 2003, the legislature passed a law to expand the program to every public school in Washington. To date, 70 percent of the state’s schools have such safety maps in place, and the law-enforcement organization expects all will have them by December 2008.
In recognition, on Sep. 6, the state earned the 2007 Innovations Award in Homeland Security from the Falls Church, Va.-based Noblis, a nonprofit science and technology organization, and the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Good thinking, this. Having something accessible to emergency responders will save lives in the future.