On Friday, December 9th, city employees of Two Harbors and Silver Bay, along with Lake County employees, and employees of bigger businesses, the hospital, and the schools, came together to attend a reunification training.
A reunification training is a training that educates on the process necessary to reunite affected students with their families after a school shooting. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division was invited by Steve Olson from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to lead the training. Olson had facilitated an earlier training for local law enforcement, and wanted to have another training for those outside of law enforcement.
Though designed for an active assailant incident, the reunification training applies to any traumatic event involving the schools that would necessitate evacuation, such as a fire. A plan to safely evacuate students to a designated off-campus location serving as a reunification site, how to document who is at the reunification site, and how to contact parents or guardians of the students are all part of the reunification process.
Another reason for bringing the training to city and county employees and employees of bigger businesses, the hospital, and schools is to see who would be interested in being part of a reunification team. Steve Olson will begin to assemble a team in the near future.
Why is the reunification process important? Many times in a traumatic incident, the focus lies on neutralizing the source of the trauma. While that is crucial, it is also very important to focus on the individuals who were at the location of the incident. Children especially need to have the assurance that they will be helped and reunited with their parents.
The reunification process is also important for parents. Imagine the terror of finding out your child was at the scene of a traumatic event, whether that be a fire or an active assailant. Now imagine how that terror could multiply with the uncertainty of not knowing if your child is safe. This could cause panic, which would interfere with the efforts of the first responders at the incident site. Now imagine receiving that same news – that your child was at the scene of a traumatic incident – but instead you know there is a plan and team in place to get your child to safety and to reunite you with your child.
It’s always better to be prepared and have nothing happen then to be unprepared and have something happen. Thank you to the law enforcement officers, fire department, first responders, and other unsung heroes who keep our community safe.