DIXFIELD — RSU 10 administrators and nearly 20 area police, fire and ambulance personnel met Tuesday afternoon to discuss and identify methods for schools and public safety employees to work together.

This was the second of three gatherings organized by RSU 10 Superintendent Craig King to get to know the community.

“We rely on you for safety for all kinds of things,” King said. “There are people out there selling our children drugs; there are fires. It’s really important that public safety and the schools know each other.” 

At the end of the 90-minute session, several actions were determined to be of significance for better communication and training among staff and emergency personnel.

Among them was a desire for law enforcement officers to attend more functions, drills and other events taking place at the schools.

“In the southern part of the county, a school resource officer is in place,” Capt. Christopher Wainwright of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office said. “It has worked well. It helps me as a detective and helps mitigate some of the problems. Maybe one for all of RSU 10.”

Most agreed that having officers in the schools on a regular basis would eliminate possible stress among students when a member of the Sheriff’s Office, municipal police, state police or fire department come to the school.

Other suggestions included calling on local law enforcement when a school schedules a drill, lockdown or other emergency training so walk-throughs can be conducted. Such actions could greatly improve the likelihood that all students and staff would follow the proper procedure.

Maine State Trooper Jason Wing suggested that a map of each school be posted at all entrances to schools, while Oxford County Deputy Peter Casey said it was important for both schools and first responders to follow standard operating procedures.

More suggestions included posting cards in classroom windows which provide the number of students who should be in the classroom. Individual school emergency plans were shared.

Dirigo High School Principal Michael Poulin said the Dixfield school regularly holds fire drills, evacuations, lockdowns and hold-and-secure procedures. He said an example of a hold-and-secure procedure would be if a student is injured in the school, and other students and staff are prevented from blocking an exit. Fire drills call for students to go to one of three locations outside the school, he said.

Just knowing law enforcement procedures would be very helpful if a lockdown or evacuation is needed, he said.

Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant suggested that first responders be invited to faculty meetings, and that any reports from a child about guns or knives should be followed up immediately.

King also suggested that first responders be invited to Wednesday late-start days to meet with faculty.

“We want to make first responders part of the community,” he said. “Our No. 1 concern is a safe and orderly environment for our students.”

All suggestions and comments will be compiled and placed on the RSU 10 website.

A workshop with board members, teachers, administrators and the area’s legislative delegation was held earlier in the month. King plans to hold a third session the first of next year with area business people.

Among the first responders attending Tuesday’s session were firefighters and police officers from Rumford, Dixfield and Mexico, law enforcement officials from the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office and the Maine State Police and representatives from Med-Care Ambulance Service in Mexico.

RSU 10 includes the towns of Canton, Carthage, Dixfield, Peru, Buckfield, Hartford, Sumner, Byron, Mexico, Roxbury, Rumford and Hanover.


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