Eight years after the Columbine High School shootings and nearly six years after Sept. 11, 2001, many public schools are short on both the equipment and expertise they’ll need in case of a full-scale terrorist attack, natural disaster or biohazard emergency, says a study by Congress’ Government Accountability Office reported by USA Today. In many cases, schools have never trained alongside local emergency response teams, and in a few districts, school officials won’t even be able to use their walkie-talkies to communicate with first responders during an emergency.
GAO surveyed school districts nationwide and found that of those with emergency plans, 27 percent have never trained with first responders, as the government recommends; only 29 percent train with “community partners” such as hospitals and municipalities. An Education Department official noted that federal officials do not review school emergency plans. Chairman Bennie Thompson of the House Homeland Security Committee said that Congress would require a federal review.