In recent years, staff and administrators from K-12, career tech and higher education have become keenly aware of the need for emergency preparation. In the wake of everything from school shootings to natural disasters, school safety has moved to the forefront of responsibilities for today’s administrators but they have not always known where to go for help and training in this area.
In the state of Oklahoma, Moore Norman Technology Center (MNTC) has become a growing source of emergency management information and training. One of 29 technology centers in Oklahoma’s highly respected CareerTech system, MNTC has taken the lead in bringing emergency management training to the state’s educational institutions.
Jerry McConnell, director of facility operations for MNTC, began sharing his knowledge and skill with individual schools in 2008. Certified in active shooter and intruder training among other things, word of McConnell’s expertise has spread over the years and allowed him to expand his offerings to include hazard vulnerability and threat assessment, emergency planning, safety team implementation, severe weather preparation and more.
“We started out working with schools one-on-one to see how we could help,” said McConnell. “Our services have continued to grow through word of mouth. People attend our facility and operations director meetings and take what they learn back to their superintendents. More often than not, the superintendents get back to us asking for assistance.”
In the past two years, McConnell has facilitated or coordinated over 30 training sessions—including roughly 11 for public schools— for facilities managers, safety officials and administrators representing Oklahoma public schools, technology centers, higher education, police, emergency management and the weather industry. Topics have ranged from active shooter and survival training to multi-hazard planning for schools, tornado shelter assessment and more.
Chris Klein, environmental health & safety coordinator at MNTC, has worked closely with McConnell, focusing on emergency planning. In addition to maintaining the emergency plan for MNTC, Klein has participated in McConnell’s training sessions and has worked with school districts to develop individualized emergency plans.
“We have this knowledge on the MNTC campus and are motivated to share it with other schools,” said Klein. “Everyone wins when all schools are prepared for the things that could happen.”
MNTC is involved in the Safe School 101 training initiative spearheaded by the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management with the support of FEMA and also works closely with the Oklahoma School Security Institute.
MNTC is always looking to connect with schools to ensure each site is truly safe and prepared. For more information about the emergency training programs available through MNTC, call (405) 364-5763 x7208 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
-This story was contributed to the July 25 edition of the Educator Currents newsletter by Stephanie Royse, director of marketing communications at MNTC.