POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 49 e s y r - - n r , e l r c - s p e e o e f o . f d e BY CAIT MCINTYRE The News - Jan. 6, 07 Speaking in Code As originally published NEW GLASGOW - The emergency response system in place for the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board can set an example for other schools across the province. That’s according to Halifax police Const. Mark Young, who reviewed the school board’s Zero to 30 emergency response code when he met with communications director Terri Mingo and Ken MacDonald of the New Glasgow Police Department in November. “It’s a good foundation for a model to be used across the province,” he said. Young was hired by the Department of Education to review emergency plans for all Nova Scotia schools in the aftermath of the shootings at Dawson College in Montreal last fall. He visited with school boards province-wide to see how they are prepared to deal with different emergency situations, such as intruders inside a school. Young called Zero to 30, which is a principal’s guide for how to respond in the first 30 minutes of a serious incident, a comprehensive, well-published document. Moreover, he praised the team approach used by the school board when developing it. School board staff worked in groups and with emergency agencies, such as the New Glasgow police, to compose the document. He also said the school board is willing to de-brief and re-evaluate the document after every incident – something he said is highly recommended. I think it’s valid the way it is; they are well prepared with the plan they have,” he said. “I was very impressed with the amount of work they put into it. Their emergency response system is among the most extensive I’ve seen anywhere in the province.” He hopes to have a draft document completed by the end of the month that will outline possible changes school boards may want to make to their emergency response plans. One of his recommendations is for the province to develop a uniform way to isolate students if an intruder enters a school. He also said a possible suggestion could be for principals to use plain language when announcing an emergency situation over the intercom, rather than the current policy, which is to announce, for instance, a “code red” (evacuation) or “code blue” (lockdown). Principals should simply tell teachers directly to secure their classrooms rather than speak in code, he explained. Other potential changes he said will be made public after education officials receive his security template. Meanwhile, Mingo said the school board’s emergency response is an easy-to-use, step-by-step guide. She said she’s proud of what they have accomplished in establishing an emergency response plan, but she added that she is looking forward to getting feedback from Young. Mingo isn’t predicting any major changes to the current emergency system, though she said the staff will meet after Young’s document is released to discuss implementing some of his recommendations. In the meantime, she has a few recommendations of her own, and that includes creating an automated communications system that’s tapped into the student database.