East Jefferson Fire-Rescue resident volunteer EMT Andrew Raney participated in a special breakfast meeting for first responders last Friday hosted by the Chimacum School District. Junior class members Rachel Matthes and Nina Haddenham were two of the volunteer servers for the event. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

East Jefferson Fire-Rescue resident volunteer EMT Andrew Raney participated in a special breakfast meeting for first responders last Friday hosted by the Chimacum School District. Junior class members Rachel Matthes and Nina Haddenham were two of the volunteer servers for the event. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

First responders, Chimacum officials share meal, discussion about school safety

CHIMACUM — East Jefferson County first responders and Chimacum School District administration are getting to know each other.

A breakfast held last Friday was about more than just the food enthusiastically served by members of the high school’s junior class. The event gathered together more than 30 members of East Jefferson Fire-Rescue (EJFR), the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, the State Patrol and school administration to discuss school safety. The idea originated with Deputy Andy Pernsteiner.

Sheriff David Stanko said he was pleased to have the opportunity to share a meal and a conversation.

“I’m happy to build a partnership here,” he said. “I think getting to know each other is very important. It really helps to develop this relationship. It’s important to know us all on a first-name basis.”

Assistant Superintendent Art Clarke said he was eager to allow first responders to come on campus.

“It’s really important that we build relationships with all the students here,” he said. “We reduce the fear in the schools and the communities when we do. We can increase the communications we have with each other through events like this.

“It’s really important that we know each other on a first-name basis, because if something happens, we are all in this together.”

Clark explained that one way the school district handles student safety concerns is through the anonymous reporting mechanism on its website.

“We’re happy that we have it. We got a report the other day about a kid who elbowed another kid while he was walking down the hall. That was the level of civility that we’re talking about. It was a tip.”

To provide the best security on a large scale, the district now has a state-of-the-art security system that gives first responders a real-time view of events taking place in specific locations.

“Cameras on campus are a really big deal,” Clark emphasized. “Our school board last summer said it is a big expenditure. It was hard to admit that in a rural community that we might need them. It took more than one reading and more than one discussion.

“And they did it. Then we had Parkland. And then it wasn’t hard anymore. Cause it’s very real.”

There are 72 security cameras mounted in several buildings throughout the district.

Clarke provided a demonstration of the security cameras at work using the library’s overhead projection system.

He explained that the cameras are motion activated and can track movement in halls, all common areas and outside around buildings and in parking lots. The high resolution and zoom features allow close up views to be very sharp. The infrared capabilities allow for monitoring during low light or night conditions.

And, most importantly, they can be shared remotely with law enforcement so if there is a need to pinpoint a specific location during an event, first responders can figure out the easiest way to get there.

The camera’s footage contains no audio and can be stored up to 30 days. Signs posted throughout the schools remind students to be aware of the cameras.

Clarke mentioned that several Chimacum teachers would be going through ALICE training (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). Stanko mentioned that five of his deputies were going through similar training.

Stanko summed up the meeting by echoing everyone’s thoughts.

“School safety trumps everything else.”

________

Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-3225 or [email protected]

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