Katy ISD prepares for hurricane season

10 06 2012

The following is from a Katy Independent School District news release:

The 2012 hurricane season officially begins on June 1, yet there have already been two named storms this year. As such, Katy ISD is preparing for tropical weather hazards and reminds families to prepare as well by making a plan, putting together a hurricane survival kit, and staying informed. The Houston region has many helpful resources to guide students, parents, and school personnel through these three steps.

“In order for Katy ISD to be ready for storms we need our personnel, students, and our students’ families to be prepared,” said John Bremer, Katy ISD emergency management coordinator. “Prepared families help us by allowing us time to close schools and secure the buildings well ahead of the threat. We know our personnel need time to take care of family. We also know our business partners may need to evacuate essential employees and their families. If families are prepared, then we can make better decisions about school operations.”

Katy ISD’s partners at Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Management have prepared tools for families to use as they prepare for hurricane season. These tools include a brochure on Hurricane Preparedness and a preparedness checklist. The Ready Houston regional preparedness page also has helpful information on how to prepare for disasters, including hurricanes at: www.readyhoustontx.gov/.

“Make a plan, put together a survival kit, and stay informed are the three steps Katy ISD uses to prepare for hurricane season; these are the same steps students, parents and school personnel can use to be ready,” added Bremer. “Hurricane season is less frightening when you have prepared.”

District preparations include reviewing and updating its tropical weather annex to the emergency operations plan; coordinating its planning with regional partners in Fort Bend, Harris and Waller Counties; and making sure that emergency resources are available and ready should a storm threaten the Texas Gulf Coast. In order to respond ahead of any storm, Katy ISD stays informed by working closely with the National Weather Service, Texas Division of Emergency Management, Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management.

Katy ISD Working To Develop Model Standards For Large Event Security

28 01 2011

As reported by InstantNewsKaty.com on Friday, January 28, 2011:

As part of its ongoing efforts to improve safety and security throughout the district, Katy ISD administrators have begun developing a safety and security plan to help establish uniform standards for large-scale events.  The district said it expects the standards developed will serve as a model for K-12 districts throughout the state and the nation as they plan for large events as well.

As part of its Readiness and Emergency Management in Schools grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the district will develop protective measures and guidelines for large-scale events, with the assistance of the National Center for Spectator Sports and Safety from The University of Southern Mississippi.According to a statement issued by the district Friday afternoon, catastrophic events and elevated terrorist activity “serve as constant reminders to administrators and Katy ISD police that sporting and entertainment venues are vulnerable to disasters that can result in significant damage to property, personal injury and loss of life.”

District administrators have defined a large-scale event to be one that includes 500 or more spectators or visitors. District facilities that routinely host large number of people include the Merrell Center, which hosts a variety of sporting and public events year-round, as well as Rhoads Stadium, the home field for all Katy ISD high school football teams.

Dr. Walter Cooper, director for research and development at the National Center for Spectator Sports and Safety; Dr. David Corderman, senior partner at Academy Leadership Associates, LLC in Fredericksburg, VA; and Dr. Stacey Hall, associate director for the National Center for Spectator Sports and Safety and assistant professor of sport management at the University of Southern Mississippi, recently visited Katy ISD and met with district leaders to discuss ways of developing a program and uniform standards to improve safety and security at the district’s numerous large-scale events. During their visit, they met with several departments including athletics, fine arts, campus administrators, and the police department to gather data to help formulate new standards.

According to Dr. Cooper, “Katy ISD is comparable to a Division I University such as Ohio State University in terms of the number of facilities, the quality of facilities, and enrollment and its safety and security programs should be reflective of that.”  The center will assist Katy ISD in several areas including training in identifying vulnerabilities and threats, improving physical protections systems, enhancing emergency response and recovery operations and building multi-agency and evacuation capabilities.

Katy ISD received $430,000 in funding by the REMS Grant administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The district applied for the grant last year and received the funds in August 2009, to improve safety and security at Katy ISD’s 52 campuses, private schools in the Katy area, and 15 support facilities, including athletic facilities.  REMS grant awards are typically based on a district’s size. Like all federal grants, REMS money must be used for projects approved specifically in the grant application.

Projects designated in the grant application must be completed by the end of March 2011, according to John Bremer, Katy ISD emergency management coordinator.

Full-Scale Exercise For Katy ISD To Mirror Actual Emergency Event

20 09 2010

In the September 20th edition of InstantnewsKaty.com, John Pape reports on the efforts of Katy ISD to prepare for future emergency situations affecting schools in its district.  As reported:

Emergency personnel from Katy and the surrounding areas, along with administrators from Katy ISD, will hold a full-scale mock exercise on Monday, Oct. 11.  Designed to simulate an actual emergency, the goal of the exercise is to improve response plans and rehearse response operations for both the school district and area emergency responders.  More than 100 area emergency responders will be involved in the exercise.

Participants will include Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital, Christus St. Catherine Hospital, Methodist West Houston Hospital, Willow Fork Fire Department, Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Texas Children’s Hospital – West Campus, West I-10 Fire Department and EMS, Community Fire Department, Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management, SETRAC, Harris County’s Constable’s Office – Precinct 5, Harris County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office will be involved in the event.

Additionally, more than 150 Katy ISD students and parents from the district’s high schools and numerous staff will also participate in the mock exercise, which is expected to last most of the day.  John Bremer, emergency management coordinator for Katy ISD said the effort will help strengthen existing ties between the school district and emergency personnel.  “The emergency responders that are participating service one or more schools in the district. We already have an established relationship with them and have worked with them on a variety of emergency situations, although none of this magnitude,” Bremer said.

Eric Bank, EMS assistant chief for the West I-10 Fire Department, will serve as lead community partner representative for the exercise. He called the benefits to emergency responders “great.”  “A large scale drill of this magnitude is extremely important to test local and regional response systems,” Bank said. “The value of this training is not only in the process, but through the actual lessons learned through planning and participation.”

Bremer and Bank also stressed to parents and the greater Katy community that the exercise is just a drill and there is no need to panic if they come across road closures, hear sirens or see fire and medical personnel en route to a campus or campuses. Since Oct. 11 is also a district-wide student holiday, the only students involved in the exercise are a select group of volunteers to serve as actors.

This exercise is funded in part by a Readiness and Emergency Management in Schools Grant administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Katy ISD applied for the grant last year and received funding in August 2009. The effort is intended to improve safety and security at the district’s 52 campuses and private schools in the Katy area, as well as 15 support facilities.  Like all federal grants, REMS money must be used for projects approved specifically in the grant application. Projects designated in the grant application must be completed by the end of January 2011.

Bremer stated, to date, the grant money has allowed his department to update the district and individual campus emergency operations plans, provide additional safety and security training to staff and provide updated and interoperable emergency communications equipment, weather radios and lightning meters for each campus.  Additionally, Bremer was able to purchase supplies for emergency “go-kits” for each of the 4,182 classrooms in Katy ISD.