Friday, December 21st there will be a moment of silence in many parts of our nation to remember the many victims of the senseless violence that visited Sandy Hook Elementary School last week.
It would be appropriate for all of us to take part in this observance. As emergency managers and citizens we play a role in what happens in our communities. I suggest we use that moment to reflect on the loss and also the future. While it is politically appropriate to call it a "moment of silence" my time will be spent in prayer. One part in remembrance and another for the future. For ways in which I can help change things for the better.
After that moment of silence it is time for us to get to work. The phrase, "If not now, then when?" comes to mind.
For emergency managers I recommend the following:
- Review, and if needed, establish or re-establish relationships with your school districts and schools in your community.
- Offer what you have within your resources to help them do all-hazards planning. If you have a larger city and county maybe it means putting together a School Safety Conference. This is something we did in King County before we were overwhelmed with Homeland Security grants and projects. Do it jointly with your school partners and your state if they are willing to participate and contribute.
- Look at the technology that is available for notification and see if there is some synergy between what you have and schools need.
- Integrate first responders into all your school planning and exercises so that those relationships get built from the bottom up.
- Don't accept the statement that "It has never/it will never happen here." Proof of that is found in the number of acts of violence that have covered our nation in the blood of innocents.
- Don't let the energy fade overtime. Build in activities that keep relationships in place. Disaster exercises need to incorporate the schools in whatever the scenario it is that you are using.
- Demand action by our Federal Legislators. There are no single action that will solve this problem we have in this country. I believe that contributing factors are:
- Then there is the gun lobby. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has tremendous influence on elected officials at all levels of government. No one can have influence on me unless I let them do so. For me--as a former NRA member and Infantry Officer, I'm not afraid of them and I'll support any elected official who stands up to them.