Police SWAT teams and hostage negotiators are gathered at a standoff and hostage scene in Dale County near Midland City, Ala (Credit: AP/Montgomery Advertiser)
School leaders, emergency responders, and social workers are constantly continuing their education. Many of them came together to look at their crisis response plans Friday, and see how they can improve.
It was a workshop at the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center in Dothan.
Bureau of Indian Affairs Supervisory Special Agent Lawrence Robertson and Gayle Thom, retired FBI agent, lead the workshop.
Robertson knows a lot about responding to a crisis. Nearly ten years ago, he was part of the team called to the Red Lake shooting where a teenager killed ten people.
“That's my main message is to be prepared even when you're in a rural area,” said Robertson.
A message Dale County leaders are fully aware of.
Dale County Schools Superintendent Donny Bynum says, after the murder of a school bus driver and kidnapping of a student last year, he’s learned how important it is to have an evolving plan.
“Always thinking forward, you don't want to ever sit on we're planned and we're ready because we're never ready,” said Bynum.
Workshops like this allowed them to look at how they handled last year's crisis and compare it to others.
“When you go through something like this, you look back and say I wish I could've done this a little different. Or a little faster. Or I'm glad we did it this way. So you can really take a snapshot and say we learned from this,” said Bynum.
Robertson and Thom discussed when to get victims the help they need, and to remember to take care of themselves during the crisis.
But there was also a bright spot in the day.
“To have national trainers come in and say you did a good job, I think will validate some of the people who were I think… think they could've done better… they'll say oh we did a good job,” said Sheryl Walker, Executive Director of the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center.
Thom adds, “The one thing I'm taking away is the teamwork they already have, I'm impressed by the work they have done to make themselves a cohesive team.”
A team ready and willing to help when needed.
This workshop was provided through a grant by the Office of Victims of Violent Crime. It was free for those participating.