TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. (WLFI) — It’s a call teachers or school employees hope they never have to make.
Although it’s a harsh reality faced by all school staff, calling 911 can do more harm than good if the proper protocol isn’t in place.
“It is what it is. So, I think that as long as we can educate ourselves, and know the right thing to do to have a safe school for our students,” said James Cole Elementary secretary Kelly Kesterson.
Several members of Tippecanoe School Corporation staff now have a better understanding of what to do in an emergency situation – thanks to county dispatch.
“People don’t really understand how it works,” explained Tippecanoe County dispatch supervisor Susan Crecelius. “They don’t understand, especially with cellphones, that they might get transferred. Who dispatches what. So, that’s why we wanted to come and talk about what you need to say when you call 911, and a little bit about how it works.”
James Cole Elementary Principal Michael Pinto said he got the idea for the training after Amy Beverland Principal Susan Jordan was struck and killed by a bus at dismissal last January.
Pinto said when he learned Marion County 911 lines were flooded with concerned calls from staff, he wanted to have a plan of action.
That’s where Crecelius comes in.
“Things do happen, unfortunately, and school is much different than it was 30 or 40 years ago,” said Crecelius. “But the best way to be prepared is to train.”
On Wednesday morning, Crecelius taught faculty the basics of 911 and how they should handle an emergency in a school setting. She said it’s best to call from a landline and to begin by giving a location and phone number, but there’s one step crucial to getting help fast.
“If they can try and remain calm, it actually speeds up the process,” Crecelius added.
She also recommends that schools appoint one person in charge of calling 911 to avoid multiple calls to dispatch.
In the case of James Cole Elementary, that person is Kelly Kesterson. She said the training has better prepared her for a worst case scenario.
“It’s key to have your emotions in check, stay calm and bottom line – we’re here for the safety of our kids,” said Kesterson.