Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

December 15, 2012

Valdosta, Lowndes schools address shooting tragedy in Conn.

VALDOSTA — Like communities across the nation, Valdosta and Lowndes County felt the impact Friday of the tragedy in Connecticut.

The Times reached out to the school systems and emergency responders.

• “Providing a safe, positive, and nurturing learning environment is first priority in the Lowndes County School System,” said Lowndes County School Superintendent Wes Taylor in a statement regarding the Connecticut tragedy. “Multiple levels of planning and security are in place for our students and staff. We have a system safety plan and school safety plans in every facility in addition to crisis management plans developed with guidance and training from Federal Emergency Management Agency. We conduct emergency preparedness drills on a regular schedule. In cooperation with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, we provide school resource officers and DARE officers in our schools.  

“We are deeply saddened by the news from Connecticut,” Taylor continued. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the students, staff, and families.”

• Valdosta City Schools Superintendent Dr. Bill Cason released the following statement: “Our hearts are absolutely broken by the actions that took place in Newtown, Conn., at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As educators and for many of us, as parents, we cannot imagine the grief this community is suffering. We will continue to keep the school district, the families and friends in our thoughts and prayers. In Valdosta City Schools, the safety of our students, faculty and staff is paramount. We have a comprehensive safety plan in place for each of the schools in our district.”

• Valdosta Fire Chief J.D. Rice said city firefighters are aware of school layouts and have medical equipment aboard their trucks.

“All of us are trained first responders, trained to treat gunshot wounds, stabbings, different types of emergencies ... The reason they keep medical bags on the truck, we can start rendering aid immediately. Only thing we can’t do is transport. We can treat on-scene.”

As for the tragedy, Rice said, “I’m devastated. You can’t help but think about the tragedy it’s got to be for the parents and the families of the teachers ... Heart-wrenching. The most devastating thing that I’ve ever seen. Gives the kids a whole different perspective on life. In Colorado, in the college, those were older kids. These were babies. These kids were probably looking forward to Christmas, talking about what they’re getting for Christmas, then to have their lives snuffed out. I’ve been glued to TV ever since the news broke.”

• Valdosta Police Cmdr. Brian Childress said the police department works closely with the city school system. The police department has the floor plans for all city schools. There are procedures in place for a variety of emergencies.

“This situation is tragic, difficult,” Childress said. “The best thing you can do in any of these cases is prepare for them. It’s the best thing you can do to minimize dangers to different schools. I think the school system has done that.”

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