Mon County Health Department to host family reunification training for first responders

School officials and emergency responders from West Virginia and Pennsylvania attended family reunification training at the Monongalia County Health Department on Thursday.

John-Michael Keyes, co-founder and executive director of I Love U Guys Foundation, led the training. He named the foundation after the last text message he received from his daughter, Emily, who was killed in 2006 by a man who took seven hostages at Platte Canyon High School in Colorado.

Keyes taught standard reunification protocol (SRP) and standard reunification method (SRM) to attendees. SRP and SRM training focuses on reuniting families after a crisis. The materials used in the training are available for free, and Keyes encouraged attendees to pass the training on.

One key concept of SRP is a share vocabulary between everyone who would be involved in a school crisis: parents, teachers, students and law enforcement, Keyes said.

Jamie Moore, with the Marion County Health Department, said common language helps with communication and saves time in an emergency situation.

Each word needs specific directions and meaning, and everyone involved should be aware of the meaning. An example Keyes used was the different between lockout and lockdown.

Lockout means get inside and lock the outside doors. No one comes in or out, and someone or something dangerous is going on outside of the building, Keyes said. Business within the building should continue as normal as possible.

Lockdown means lock the doors, turn the lights off and stay out of sight. The protocol is initiated when there is a threat inside the building.  Keyes explained that students should stay low, because bullets fly high, and teachers should stay low to model the proper behavior. Doors should remain locked until a school administrator or law enforcement officer opens the door. Keyes also gave teachers tips to manage students while waiting for the lockdown to end — which can take several hours.

“It’s a good, informative class,” said Captain Mark Ralston, with the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department.

Mike Hoefler, Masontown Police chief, said the training was excellent and can also be implemented in local businesses, not just schools.

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