Scottsbluff Public Schools prepares for annual district-wide emergency response simulation

Nebraska State Patrol Sgt. Chris Baer checks the locked door of a classroom and looks for students and teachers inside at Longfellow Elementary during an emergency simulation in November 2017

Scottsbluff Public Schools will conduct their annual district-wide emergency response simulation Monday, Oct. 21. Emergency response personnel will coordinate the simulation at each school.

Students and parents will receive notice of the simulation, so they know it is only a drill.

Several agencies will respond to the exercise, including Chief Kevin Spencer, Scottsbluff Police Department; Sheriff Mark Overman, Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Office; Scottsbluff Fire Department; Ray Richards, 911 communications director; Nebraska State Patrol; and James Todd, Scottsbluff Public Schools safety and security coordinator.

This is the ninth year the district has organized a simulation as the district works with law enforcement agencies to improve response protocols and enhance security practices.

As part of this year’s simulation, SBPS will conduct a test of the Remind Urgent Messaging System, the district’s new emergency messaging system for parents. Parents who do not receive a test message on Oct. 21 are encouraged to contact their child’s school.

Wendy Kemling, executive director of student services, said they recently tested the Remind system.

“We tested the new system across the entire district Friday, Oct. 11, with the staff,” she said.

The communication system has text to voice capabilities as well as Spanish translations.

While the district works through the simulation to improve security, Kemling said it’s important for staff, students and the public to be mindful of each building’s safety features.

“Locked doors are only as good if someone is standing there watching,” she said. “Visitors should also not hold open doors for others on their way in and out to ensure they have the proper clearance to enter.”

The exercise is intended to operationalize the procedures detailed in the district’s All Hazards School Emergency Operations Manual, which follows guidelines from the national and state emergency management systems, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FEMA Incident Command System, the “I Love You Guys” Foundation, and the Nebraska Department of Education School Safety Center.

The district’s emergency readiness includes four areas: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. The planning drives the district’s efforts to ensure a high-quality school emergency operation plan.


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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at

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