HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – Hays County leaders say every school in the county and most government offices are all operating with the same protocol when it comes to responding to dangerous situations.
Since 2013, Hays County Emergency Services has been working with area schools to make sure everyone reacts the same when there’s an active shooter, fire or weather emergency.
“We wanted to make sure everyone is on the same page with what the terms lockdown, lockout, shelter and evacuate mean and what each action requires from those affected,” said Hays County director of emergency services Kharley Smith.
“As kids move up from middle school to high school, they know what it is, it’s standard,” said Hays High School Principal David Pierce.
The county has created a task force to conduct the training and follows the standard protocol promoted by the “I Love U Guys” Foundation. The foundation was formed after a 2006 school hostage situation in Colorado, it’s named after the final text a student sent her parents before being killed. The foundation goes over very specific wording on how schools should report an emergency on its campus to law enforcement.
On the foundation’s website it states, “By standardizing the vocabulary, all stakeholders can understand the response and status of the event.”
The county’s task force trains at every school campus in Hays County, from kindergarten through high school, and conducts a training refresher and full lockdown drill on every campus, every year – about 70 in total.
“It’s a necessary evil to have the drills that we have,” said Pierce. “Each school, every faculty member knows what should be happening. You don’t have to guess, we’ve already been trained.”
According to Smith, the training program is the first of its kind to be adopted countywide.