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Klamath Basin News, Sunday – Klamath County School District Stays Prepared for Emergencies; Administrators Train In Incident Command Response System

The latest Klamath Falls News around the Klamath Basin from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM/102.5FM, BasinLife.com and The Herald & News.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Klamath Basin Weather

Today
A chance of rain or snow in the morning, then rain at times today, high of 47.   Overnight, cloudy with a low of 33 degrees.

Monday
Sunny, with a high near 63. Calm wind.

Tuesday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 66. Light west northwest wind.

Wednesday
Sunny, with a high near 64.

Today’s Headlines…

What if…. a 7.1 earthquake just hit Klamath Falls, damaging roads and buildings. You are principal of one of the 23 schools in the Klamath County School District, and hundreds of students just evacuated your school building. Now what?

How would you know if everyone was safely out of the building? And what would you do if people were injured or missing, and emergency workers couldn’t reach your location anytime soon.

Ask any KCSD administrator. They spent a full day last week training in how to use the district’s emergency operation plan and create an emergency response team to ensure everything possible is being done to save lives, prevent injuries, and protect property. The teams are patterned after the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Incident Command System.

School crisis

“Families trust schools to keep their children safe during the school day,” said Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District. “The reality is that schools may be touched either directly or indirectly by a crisis at any time.

“The district is committed to the safety of our students, staff, and community. This emergency response plan is intended to provide schools a guide for prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.

Szymoniak, while an administrator in Alaska, wrote an emergency operation plan based the FEMA model specifically for school districts. That plan is now used by districts throughout Alaska and the Northwest.

Helping Szymoniak with the training and exercises were members of the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, the Certified Community Response Team, Klamath County Fire District No. 1, and Klamath County School Safety and Risk Management Director Steve Johnson.

Building administrators were trained so they could use the system in their schools, training staff on team roles and responsibilities. After a morning of hands-on workshops including building security and intruder lockdowns, fire suppression and the roles of an incident command team, they practiced emergency drills. The day ended with the 7.1 earthquake drill.

Unaccounted for

During the drill, evacuation was done within a few minutes and within five minutes it was determined six “students” were unaccounted for. Using emergency response equipment – vests, radios, hard hats, etc. – the incident commander assigned two, two-person search and rescue teams to return to the building and systematically search it. (Six staff members as part of the drill remained in the building).

Meanwhile, staff practiced other roles necessary – building manager, security, communication, medical, staging – that are needed to keep students and staff safe in an emergency. As search and rescue crews reported in by radio – clearing rooms and areas they had searched – communications kept track. Within 14 minutes, all six had been found uninjured and escorted to safety.

Henley High School Principal Jack Lee, who was in the role of incident commander, said the incident command system can be used during any type of emergency or threat.

“I think it’s important to physically go through these trainings,” said Jack Lee, principal of Henley High School, who served as incident commander during the earthquake drill. “This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this where we would send staff members into a collapsed building to search for missing students.”

Practice, practice, practice

Klamath County School District employees go through a series of trainings, Szymoniak said, including taking an online FEMA class on the Incident Command System as it applies to schools. Schools also conduct monthly drills to practice responses to a variety of emergencies, including natural disasters, active shooters, intruders, and bomb threats.

In addition to emergency response training, the district has implemented several practices to ensure safe and welcome schools. They include:

■ Locked entrances to school buildings during the school day and school events with a buzz-in system for access.

■ Evacuation routes available in all classrooms.

■ Threat assessment protocols, district harassment procedures, counseling response teams, and academic and behavioral intervention teams.

■ Continued assessment of dress code and backpack policies.

“In addressing the issue of school safety, we must first remember that schools are reflective of the communities they serve,” Szymoniak said. “As such, we can work together to ensure maximum school safety and preventative emergency procedures.”

Klamath County School District administrators train in incident command response system.

Klamath County decided Wednesday in a County Counsel meeting that it would not help the state enforce and educate the community about Gov. Kate Brown’s flavored vaping products ban due to questions about the legality of the executive order.

The Oregon Court of Appeals issued a stay in the order Thursday, which Public Health Director Jennifer Little said they anticipated, causing them to decline helping to educate and enforce the policy.

“We anticipated something like that happening, which is why we didn’t want to fully jump in at that moment, and so we are really just relying on the state at this moment,” she said. “I wanted to talk to county counsel and hear about the legality and the risk and all that stuff, and so, like I said, now with the stay happening it looks like it’s a moot point.”

Little said another reason they would not help is because of a lack of public health staff.

For the latest information on the order visit healthoregon.org/vaping.

The Bureau of Land Management issued a right-of-way grant late Wednesday that allows for the construction of various facilities on 711 acres east of Klamath Falls.

In its entirety, the Swan Lake North Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project would occupy about 711 acres of land managed by the BLM; 19 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Reclamation; and 1,310 acres of state, county, and private lands. A portion of the upper reservoir and adjacent, surrounding, fenced area is located on the western edge of Swan Lake Rim. Part of the penstock, some access roads, and approximately one half of the 32.8-mile-long transmission line will be located on BLM-administered lands along Swan Lake Rim, Horton Rim, and Bryant Mountain.

The ROW grant is part of the Swan Lake North Hydro LLC proposal to develop a 393.3-megawatt hydropower generating facility through a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license for private development.

State Representative E. Werner Reschke filed for re-election yesterday to the Oregon House of Representatives District 56 serving southern Klamath and Lake counties.

In announcing his re-election plans Reschke highlighted his 2019 Legislative accomplishments including: $40 million for Oregon Tech’s renovation of Cornett Hall, $7.8 million for KCC Career/Technical Center, Rural Tax Credit for Sky Lakes Medical Center employees, Small high school funding for Klamath County School District, High speed Internet expansion to Merrill & Malin, and Military Spouse employment access.

The Mills Neighborhood Association had its first annual meeting Tuesday.

The purpose of the meeting was to appoint new leadership, establish a new bank account, and confirm the new bylaws. The association lost all of its original leadership save for the president, Isabel Rodriguez, after a disagreement between Rodriguez and the board led all of the board members to resign.

During the meeting Rodriguez was elected as president again, Patrick Sullivan was elected vice president, Kaitlin Hakanson was elected secretary, and the three elected board members were Terra Russo, Minea Kiss and John Crawford.

Around the region late yesterday Medford Detectives were alerted to individuals attempting to sell gold coins at various local coin stores, which matched the unique coins stolen in a robbery last weekend.

Detectives conducted surveillance and located the suspects in question near 8th Street and Grape Street, leaving a local coin store. Detectives followed two involved vehicles as they drove away together. While they were stopped in traffic Detectives arrested Mariha Lynn Mack, 24 on outstanding warrants. Later officers were eventually able to capture three suspects linked to the suspect. The suspects were Dustin Mack, 30, Matthew Andress, 35, and Michelle Kleiser, 37. All of the suspects had outstanding warrants and Mack was wanted for the original robbery.

Around the state a woman arrested on manslaughter charges following a 2018 DUI car crash that killed her toddler daughter has been sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison.

34-year-old Janie Miller pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree assault for causing injury to her daughter along with charges of DUI and four counts of reckless endangerment. Miller was arrested in March, almost a full year after her 2-year-old daughter, died in the crash in Salem. Miller’s blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash was at least 0.15%, according to court records

Ten homeless people were killed in Multnomah County in 2018 the highest number since the county started tracking these deaths eight years ago.

The number of deaths from homicidal violence doubled from the five recorded in 2015, which had previously been the highest on record.The jump in homicides is only one driver in a year that saw 92 people, the largest number of people ever, dying on the streets of Portland – as well as in hospital beds, vehicles, shelters and motels.

Klamath Falls News from partnership with the Herald and News, empowering the community.

…For complete details on these and other stories see today’s Herald & News.  Wynne Broadcasting and the Herald and News…stronger together to keep you informed.

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