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The Washoe County School District is better prepared for any type of school incident than they were a year ago.

“When the District was awarded a $959,950 grant for School Readiness & Emergency Management by the U.S. Department of Education in 2005, our goal was to improve school security and the district’s ability to respond to emergencies,” said Superintendent Paul Dugan. “We have certainly met those goals and exceeded our expectations.”

“The grant program was designed to provide funding to strengthen and improve our emergency response and crisis planning efforts, at both the District and school-site level,” explained Chris Smith, Director of Emergency Preparedness for the Washoe County School District.

A portion of the funding was used to hire an outside consulting firm to support the district’s emergency preparedness effort. “Visual Imagry, Inc. was hired on January 24, 2006 and they were tasked with inventorying all schools and other facilities and to take digital photographs, 360 digital movies and collect other critical school specific data and integrate them into an interactive electronic database,” said Smith.

“Today more than 94 HTML pre-incident plans (preplans) were delivered to the Washoe County School District by Visual Imagry,” announced Smith. "These HTML preplans are designed to provide the school police, and authorized first responders, with a virtual tour of each of our 94 schools. We have already begun using these HTML preplans for exercises and trainings for principals and members of our District’s School Incident Response Team (SIRT)."

“Schools can't create safe learning environments by themselves," explain Smith. “We have been working hard for more than a year to establish partnerships with a variety of local organizations and agencies, including law enforcement agencies, fire departments, health and mental health organizations, parent groups and the Washoe County Office of Emergency Management.”

School Police Chief Mike Mieras said that “When emergency responders arrive at a school, they are often unfamiliar with the layout of the building. Having this information at their fingertips will save precious time and allow them to do their job better and faster. Without doubt, this new technology could end up saving lives and protecting property."

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