When I ask many school administrators if they are working with their county emergency management agency on their school crisis planning, I often get a common response: “Who? What do they do?”
We also like to ask school transportation directors if their district’s school buses are part of the county emergency management agency’s plan for mass transportation in a community-wide emergency. Most directors do not know. In fact, our interaction is often the first time they have heard of this process, often later to find out their buses had long been written into the county plan.
There are exceptions. Roanoke City Public Schools in Virginia work exceptionally close with their city emergency manager. And in Waterloo, Iowa, the Waterloo Community Schools has a very strong relationship with their county emergency management office.
I recently sat down with a long time colleague and friend, Joe Wainscott, Executive Director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), to talk about school preparedness and emergency management agency relationships. Joe is responsible for the state’s emergency management and homeland security efforts. He is Indiana’s emergency management director and homeland security advisor to the governor, and serves as the director of the Counter Terrorism and Security Council (CTASC), which is chaired by Indiana’s lieutenant governor.
In this interview, Joe shares his insights into:
- Emergency Management Agency as a coordination and communication hub for emergency planning and disaster recovery
- Training and exercise involvement by schools
- Schools as a community shelter
- Schools sheltering in place
- Red Cross expertise that could benefit schools
- What schools should consider having in place for a community emergency
- and more…
In Part 2 of my interview with Joe tomorrow, we will discuss the potential role of school transportation in a community emergency response, and the benefits of school and emergency management agency officials proactively working together.
Additional biographical information for Joe Wainscott: Joe was the IDHS director of training before his promotion to executive director. He was directly responsible for managing and coordinating training, exercise and certification programs and oversaw the development of the Indiana Firefighter Training System. For three years before joining IDHS, Wainscott was the law enforcement coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office-Southern District of Indiana. He also is a retired veteran of the Indiana State Police (ISP) where he served 23 years including as assistant district commander in Indianapolis, and as team leader of the Emergency Response Team (SWAT) for 12 of his 19 years on the team. Joe also served as a member of the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police Memorial Team.
In these various capacities, Joe has been a long-time active trainer, planner, and coordinator with Indiana schools and education agencies on school safety and emergency preparedness efforts. He served on the original curriculum design team and advisory board a decade ago for the Indiana Department of Education’s School Safety Specialist Academy. Joe continues to work closely with the Indiana Department of Education in his current capacity leading IDHS.
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