It's something parents would rather not think about. However, in light of today's elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., it's a topic that can hardly be ignored.
While the likelihood of there being a school shooting in Pasco County is slim, the Pasco Sheriff's Office and the school district do have plans in place in the event of a crisis situation in a school.
“We cannot discuss specific plans but I assure you the Pasco Sheriff’s Office and the Pasco School District work extremely hard together and have crisis plans in place, " Pasco Sheriff's Office spokesman Doug Tobin said. "Those plans are reviewed and practiced on frequently."
The plans include "active shooter" training to responding to weather-related events such as a tornados, thunderstorms or hurricanes.
"All Pasco Sheriff’s Office personnel have been trained on active shooter scenarios and School Resource Officer’s receive additional training from what a deputy receives," Tobin said. "The Pasco Sheriff’s Office also has plans and protocols in place so we can coordinate with the Pasco School District and we drill on these procedures on a regular basis."
What if it happened here?
In the event of a school-based crisis situation, the sheriff's office recommends that parents not rush to the school, Tobin said.
"Look at some of the pictures from (the Newtown School tragedy) and you see just how many first responders go to such an event," Tobin said. "Roads can quickly get blocked, impeding emergency personnel from getting to the scene."
The Pasco Sheriff's Office recommends parents have emergency contact information updated with the school district, then stay somewhere safe and by the phone.
"They will contact you and tell you where to go to be reunited with your child."
In addition,"turn on the local news, as the sheriff’s office works closely with news media to get the word out to the public," Tobin said.
Tobin also recommends that parents "like" the Pasco Sheriff's Office Facebook page, as well as the school district's social media sites, because those mediums can be used to communicate important information, as well.
"These events are rare but we plan for them regularly just the same," Tobin said.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office and the Pasco School District also recently completed a two-year Readiness Emergency Grant through the U.S. Department of Education, Tobin said. The grant allowed the administrations from the Pasco Sheriff’s Office and the Pasco School District the ability to update all of their crisis plans and crisis training.
"Hopefully we will never need to use it, but we are prepared just in case," Tobin said.
Finally, Tobin said, be aware and proactive, when necessary.
"Look for warning signs, suspicious activity around a school. If a loved one makes a threat act on it, call 911," Tobin said.