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School safety officer want parents to know how to respond in emergency situations

Hornsby K-8

Hornsby K-8 Elementary had a scare this week when an inmate escaped nearby. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 11, 2011)

News 12 at This Morning / Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- One Richmond County school already went into lockdown mode this first week back because of an escaped inmate.

School safety officers have a contingency plan for most emergency situations and they want parents to know how to respond as well.

At Murphey Middle School, Officer Monica Belser is busy guiding parents into the main office with one hand and monitoring everyone's safety with the other.

"We use our walkie-talkies or communication radios to replay messages to each other," Belser said. "They are coming in multiple doors. We are redirecting them to one position."

With so many unfamiliar faces walking through school doors for the first time, Belser makes sure to check identification.

Sylvia Blufkin, a mother of a new student at Murphey Middle, is trying to figure it all out.

"Seems like everyone is safe, but it's like his first time going to school," Blufkin said. "Really, don't know what to expect."

New parents like Blufkin who are just finding out about classes just want one thing.

"Knowing someone is there to protect him as I would," Blufkin said.

At most schools in Richmond County, cameras are placed strategically around the school to keep an eye on everyone that goes in and out. Officers can pull up a view of any of those cameras from their office, even a patrol car.

Along with measures inside school walls, the district also has a way to reach out to parents like Blufkin through Global Connect, a mass messaging system that can make phone calls to parents.

"It does make me feel safe, whether I'm here or without him, that he'll be looked after," Blufkin said.

Chief Patrick Clayton with school safety says, "It's not always prudent to come to the school. That only exacerbates the situation."

School safety officers have already put one safety measure into action this week when an escaped inmate was spotted near Hornsby K-8 Elementary.

Chief Clayton says every school has a school safety plan that officers can access from a thumb drive.

"We think about worst case contingencies and that's what the plans are monitored for, we have them for intruders, we have them for active shooters, we have them for major storms," Clayton said.

If students are ever evacuated, Global Connect will send out a message straight to your phone and tell you where you can pick up your child. The school gets your information for Global Connect automatically through the registration process. However, with a new student information system, the district says it will take at least two weeks to update new information.

If parents still need to get in touch during an emergency, they are advised to call the main office. Students can always go to the main office to call home for emergencies since students are not allowed to have cell phones.

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