Communication key in emergencies

January 29, 2013

The terrible devastation at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New­town, Conn., has schools everywhere reviewing school safety plans.

Statewide, all districts including Cape Henlopen are reviewing plans so that all safety plans state­wide will be easily available and understood by police and emergency workers.

A recent attempted murder in Milton highlights the importance of safety measures even in the Cape Region’s small towns.

A young woman was brutally attacked with a knife, and the assailant ran before police arrived. He turned himself in four hours later, but for those hours, the assailant’s where­abouts were unknown.

The assault took place in a parking lot near H.O. Brittingham Elementary School, and Milton Police Chief William Phillips quickly dispatched officers to the school, which was placed in lockdown.

Alerted that the assailant was still at large, Beebe Medical Center also increased security, in case the assailant should show up there.

It appears last week’s incident grew out of a domestic situation and that the assailant was not likely to enter the school or the hospital. Parents who arrived at H.O. Brittingham to pick up their children commented on the Cape Gazette website that the school appeared secure. At the same time, Milton’s other two schools, Milton Elementary School and Mari­ner Middle School, are only a short distance from H.O. Brittingham.

Superintendent Robert Fulton said the district at no time thought children were at risk in this case; neither Milton elementary nor Mariner was locked down.

Still, it would appear common sense that if any of these three schools were placed on lockdown, all should be immediately notified to implement heightened security.

This incident offers Cape Henlopen School District a good reason to review security plans not only within each school but also among its schools. The Cape Gazette does not propose Cape schools should become armed camps in order to ensure schools are safe. Still, when danger presents itself, schools must have instant communication to alert emergency agencies and the district office – and to alert other nearby schools.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.

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