Though the program is done for schools all over the country, those in West Baton Rouge Parish and Zachary High School are “the first school districts in the state” to participate in the School Safety Pilot Program with Firestorm Solutions, Superintendent Wes Watts said.
Middle and high school personnel received three hours of training by a division of retired secret service agents, Bill Baker, Vice President of operations at Firestorm, said.
WBRP was selected to participate in a School Safety Pilot after Gary Sanders, Chief Security Adviser for LWCC, saw how beneficial it was through his company’s participation. Sanders, a WBRP citizen and parent, suggested to the school district join the program and LWCC offered to cover all of the expenses for participation.
Firestorm has a unique perspective in emergency response and risk assessment because personnel chosen for the program have experience in the navy and law enforcement, Sanders said.
The training focused on incident response training and prevention, Watts said, which is the “number one goal” of the program. The program also assists with hazardous materials training, as WBR is in the proximity of several chemical plants.
A risk behavior assessment which aims to notice when a student or anyone could became threat is a possibility for future training, Watts said. BERTHA, a virtual e-learning course, is also a possibility and is up for review.
The program comes with predictive information taken from social media monitoring tools that flow in and out of the school to prevent risks, Baker said.
“Personally, we talk about [crisis prevention] every year,” Brusly High School principal Walt Lemoine said. "[Active shooter] trainings happen twice a year and [school shootings] still happen."
“I don't think any program can prevent active shooters, it just lets us know how to prepare,” Lemoine said, who said the training as comprehensive and relevant.
The program’s next step Tuesday and Wednesday is to do an “extra school system assessment of every building and design of new schools,” Watts said. After the evaluations, the company will give feedback about the facilities and new schools along with plans to improve safety.