LPS hosts training to prepare for event safety

Sporting events, assemblies, and any type of large gathering held at Lincoln Public Schools will prepared for a crisis thanks to a two-day course held the first week of June, sponsored by the National Center for Spectator Sports, Safety and Security (NCS4).

“The idea is to make sure our events are safe places to be … to be proactive and make sure we have plans in place and everyone is ready,” said Kathi Wieskamp, director of Athletics and Activities for LPS.  “We are constantly looking at how to make our events safer and that we have created a safe environment … And yes, we’re talking about large athletic events, but also school assemblies, anywhere we have a crowd.” 

LPS is one of the first PreK-12 school districts in the country to host the course, which brought local law enforcement and emergency management organizations together to focus on standardizing the way a community plans its risk management for sporting and special events.

Wieskamp explained further: “The interagency collaboration is so important …We need to make sure we are all on the same page and speaking the same language, all working in coordination.”

She stressed this training is a validation for plans LPS already has established.  “This training is the continuation of ongoing work … But we cannot get complacent.  Our school district is constantly refining and looking for ways to improve, because we know we need to be diligent – on alert.” 

Joey Sturm, an instructor with the NCS4, noted: “We used to think years ago, when I started in law enforcement – 25, 30 years ago – that we were only looking at large-stadium events.  But that’s not the case anymore. It’s the crowd, it’s the people … We need to plan accordingly for natural hazards, intentional acts, technology accidents.” 

Sturm said the focus is simple: Make sure everyone goes home safe. 

“We always have to plan for the worst, but our goal is prevention …We cannot stop lightning, we cannot stop high temperatures, but we can create misting tents and make sure extra water is available … We can do everything we can to prevent, prepare, mitigate risks and, if necessary, respond.” 

The training – funded entirely by the Federal Emergency Management Agency – is more pencil-and-paper learning than simulation, but LPS security coordinator Kyle Poore says this course is just the beginning of a continued plan for safety improvement, and hopes to bring more advanced courses to LPS in the future.

“As a district, we’re going to come back together and get a little bit deeper into this,” said Poore. “In our schools we do the Standard Response Protocols, so that’s just kind of a standard response, that’s what we’re covering now. But every scenario would bring a different specificity to it, and that’s what the advanced course would bring.”

Published: June 15, 2022, Updated: June 15, 2022