What would happen if Homewood City Schools had to evacuate hundreds of students in a matter of minutes?
That's one of the questions school leaders and the city's police and fire department wrestled with today as part of a first-ever tabletop training scenario.
Here's the scenario the Homewood City Schools, police and fire departments had to deal with today: There's a fuel tanker accident at this intersection and everyone in a half-mile radius has to be evacuated, and Hwy 31 has to be shutdown.
That means the school board and Shades Cahaba Elementary and hundreds of students have to find a place to go.
Inside the police training center, school system leaders huddled with police and fire officials to decide where they would take the students, how they would get them through the gridlock traffic, and how they would let the public and parents know what's going on and where to pick up their children.
"I'm a firm believer that you're gonna play like you practice. And this certainly was practice for us," assistant superintendent Dr. Kevin Maddox said.
"It gives us some ideas in terms of which steps to take, should an event occur, as the scenario we looked at today did," Maddox added.
"I think they did great. They all came together as a group of schools, fire, police, to work together, develop the lines of communication, to build the relationships you wanna build before you ever have an incident. An incident's not the time to have to go meet somebody," Hoover Police Captain Jim Coker noted.
Captain Coker is certified in setting up these types of exercises and he ran one for Homewood today. He says devoting time figuring out how to communicate between agencies as well as with a concerned public is critical.
"Especially today with social media, Twitter, Facebook, things fly. Information is out there so rapidly, and you gotta take proactive steps to prepare for that to make sure you get good, timely, correct information out," Coker said.
This is the first major tabletop exercise for Homewood City Schools and part of a bigger effort to update their security plan that includes new locks, cameras, and lockdown policies for their buildings.
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